Laura Jane Grace - Live in Boston (Cover Artwork)

Laura Jane Grace

Live in Boston (2016)

live show

Just getting this out of the way first: I am an unabashed super fan of Against Me!

No band (except maybe Paint It Black) comes close the raw personal and emotional impact that band has had on me over the last 12 years. From breaking up to falling in love, agonizing defeats and unbelievable victories, driving to a new job or walking to class, they’ve been the soundtrack to just about all of the major moments in my adult life. As Laura and crew grew and changed, so did I and for a while there it felt like she was writing music just for me.

Now I know that you’re thinking: why start off a show review with a drawn out, overdramatic life story?

I started off with the personal touch since the February 17th 2016 Boston show because was as much about the music as it was about the personal touches Laura Jane Grace brought to it.

For just under two hours, LJG and crew (in this case Atom Willard on drums and Marc Hudson on Bass as the self proclaimed “Devouring Mothers”) worked their way through stripped down and reworked tracks from the entire Against Me! and LJG catalogue (minus Crime as Forgiven By in chronological order as Grace read passages from her personal tour journal/upcoming book chronicling her struggle and eventual acceptance of her gender dysphoria.

While the haunting, echoey slow jam rendition of “Pretty Girls,” the narrative infused rendition of “The Ocean,” the more traditional acoustic versions of “Pints of Guinness,” “Joy,” and “Black Me Out,” or the solid Michael McDonald, Replacements and Elvis Costello covers were definitely worth the ticket price alone, it was the journal pieces that tied the whole show together much more than I anticipated.

One of the best aspects of the night was the crowd participation, and I’m not just talking about the massive sing-alongs (though don’t get me wrong, those were awesome) but LJG made it clear at the top of the night that this show would be a little different and if anyone had any questions or comments, she wanted to hear them. This lead to some of the best moments of the night, in particular one audience member’s persistent request for “We Did It All for Don” resulting, on the third attempt, a transaction being struck to trade a shot for the song. It seemed at the end of the encore that LJG wouldn’t hold up her end of the bargain. But as the last few chords of “Cavalier Eternal” faded out she paused, picked up her gifted drink, took a long sip and bluntly stated “I’m gonna fuck this up” before launching into the beloved Acoustic EP track.

It was that final note that brought the message of the night to its strong conclusion: as much as Laura’s journey to accepting herself was for her, the music she wrote was for us too. The relationship between her and her audience is something she clearly cherishes and this tour more than anything else was about cherishing not only her relationship with herself, but with us as well.

For a little less than two hours, in a room 544 other people, and it felt like she was singing right to me. Just like she always has.

Set List:

Ache With Me

Pints of Guinness Make You Strong

Tonight We’re Gonna Give It 35%

You Look Like I Need a Drink

Sink Florida Sink

I Keep Forgettin’ (Michael McDonald Cover)

Pretty Girls

How Low

Searching For a Former Clarity


Androgynous (Replacements Cover)

The Ocean

Harsh Realms

Conceptual Paths

Because of the Shame

2 Coffins

True Trans Soul Rebel

Bamboo Bones

Black Me Out


I Want You (Elvis Costello Cover)

Twenty Years (Dave Dondero cover performed with Dave Dondero)

Cavalier Eternal

We Did It All for Don