Anti-Flag/Leftöver Crack - Live in Denver (Cover Artwork)
Staff Pick

Anti-Flag / Leftöver Crack

Live in Denver (2016)

live show

I originally attended this show under a mistaken believe that Anti-Flag was the headliner and Leftöver Crack was an opener. They originally turned me off with their song “One Dead Cop.” As the nephew of a cop, I’ve always, for obvious reasons, had some problems with songs that advocate killing cops. Now, with everything that’s been going on in this country, while I still don’t support killing anybody ever, I think I'm a lot more forgiving of cop-killer songs. While I still don’t agree with them, I do feel like I'm a little more understanding these days of where that impulse comes from. It's, at the very least, no longer a non-starter for me. If I can forgive the Transplants for it, I have to give the same consideration to Leftöver Crack. So, even though I was here only for one of the opening acts, I decided to give Leftöver Crack a chance and watch their show, too.

Anti-Flag are almost certainly androids, as humans couldn't keep up that rigorous of a touring and recording schedule and continue to have the amazing enthusiasm and energy that this band showed. Anti-Flag acted like the biggest hippies in punk, asking the audience to throw up peace signs and be kind to one another. I was reminded somewhat of my Catholic School days when Chris #2 (who seemed to be taking a much larger leadership role in the band than the nominal frontman, Justin Sane) asked us all to shake hands with the people around us. But the priest in church never asked us to then put our arms around each other and sing “Brandenburg Gate.” A stunt at the end where Chris #2 and drummer Pat Thetic moved down into the audience to play “ was interesting, if a little bit of an awkward logistical nightmare.

Then came Leftöver Crack, and I tried to keep an open mind. What struck me when I heard their first song was how shockingly beautiful it was. I expected something much more drab and traditional, but what I got was anything but traditional. In punk’s 40th anniversary year, I like to see what bands can do with this genre that is different from what came before it. I come from the Joe Strummer school of punk, with the belief that punk should be a diverse genre that borrows from every other genre it possibly can. Leftöver Crack takes this to an extreme by having virtually no limits as to what is considered to be too weird to be combined together into one song. In the same song you might find a pop-hook, a really beautiful indie-rock style melody, a ska chorus, and some crust screaming over the verses. Everything is thrown together in a bizarre mishmash as Scott “Stza Crack” Sturgeon puts on a magically manic performance. His banter with the audience did not take over the show, and long political rants were actually kept to a minimum and mostly saved for the encore. His first, in which he ranted about the military in a way that was very explicit about being pro-soldier, was welcome and refreshing. His second rant about how legalizing all drugs across the board would completely eliminate terrorism on Earth was tipping its toe into the looney waters.

It was interesting to see Leftöver Crack next to Anti-Flag, as the two make for an interesting comparison. Where Anti-Flag are androids, Leftöver Crack are more like a bizarre Frankenstein monster, if Frankenstein’s monster hadn’t been made out of only human parts, but also some animal parts, and a few objects. He has chainsaws for arms and wheels for feet. To put it another way, if Anti-Flag is Noam Chomsky, Leftöver Crack is the guy in the tin-foil hat outside the Noam Chomsky lecture holding a megaphone and talking about freemasons. The thing about that guy in the tin-foil hat is that he’s actually right about every third thing that he says, and his enthusiasm can be infectious.