Against Me! - live in denver (Cover Artwork)

Against Me!

live in denver (2018)

live show

Against Me! is a polarizing band, no doubt. So when they announced they were going to play all of As The Eternal Cowboy and New Wave on back to back nights I was very intrigued.

I read about the shows here on punknews and bought tickets a few days later. I had to next figure out a way to get to Denver, but I left that in the proverbial hands of the Punk Rock Gods and they came through!

So I arrive in Denver after my flight from Phoenix on Frontier (seriously, fuck airlines! That is a different discussion…..)

I take the train/light rail from the airport to the Union Station (Denver…. $9 for public transportation? Damn!) and then walk to the Airbnb I am staying at. The Airbnb is close to downtown Denver in an area called LoDo, I believe. It is a nice area reminiscent of many hip – possibly gentrified – neighborhoods in the West.

I next stop at a beer store nearby that is mainly selling overpriced microbrews. I enter into a discussion with the clerk about beer sales in Denver. In Denver they have what is called “Near Beer” at Grocery Stores. From what I understand it doesn’t have the same alcohol content as beer that is sold in liquor stores. Crazy! You learn something every day, or something…..

I then start drinking and stop at a few bars along the way on my journey/walk to the Summit Music Hall.

There is a decent barcade across the street from the Summit Music Hall called “1up.” I stop inside and play a few games! After I play about $5 worth of Pinball I head across the street into the show.

As I walk in A Giant Dog is setting up. Interesting story, I met two of the members in Phoenix randomly a year ago at a local Chicano Bar that I attend sporadically. A Giant Dog were playing at a DIY venue named The Lunchbox that night and the two walked over to the bar after the show. We talked about punk, youth sports, growing up/becoming adults, and Portland. They seemed like great dudes. At that point I had not heard of them, but I checked them out after our encounter.

They are really good! You should check them out if you have not. They have Laura’s approval! Multiple times she thanked Ted Leo and A Giant Dog and even commented about how both bands give her hope! A Giant Dog also plays a cover from The Adverts which is cool (I enjoy punk bands covering relatively obscure punk songs). In my younger days I would have attempted to start a pit during their set (as they have a few songs which are very danceable), but I leave that up to the others in the crowd…….. the crowd lets me down!

Next up was Ted Leo and The Pharmacists. I had not yet witnessed these guys live, but I had watched various videos and I have always been intrigued about the man and the band (especially the period when he started his Misfits cover band).

They play a solid set of songs! In this live setting they remind me of a more rock n roll-y – maybe less interesting – Oingo Boingo (which is a compliment as I think of Oingo Boingo as an amazing band). Ted seems to be a very political guy as he makes multiple interesting comments! “Happy Indigenous Peoples Day!” and “Happy Fuck Christopher Columbus Day!” were a couple comments about the “holiday.” He also touches on the new Supreme Court judge and the hypocrisy of certain Libertarians who believe in individual freedoms except for a woman’s choice to do what she wants to do to her body. He encourages people to vote and touches on those who – are angry and don’t vote (I fall into this category) – and encourages us to get us to get angry and vote!

A very interesting aspect of the show is the line for the merch. There is a solid line for almost 2 hours, through both openers. It is unbelievable. A few years back I worked during an Alice in Chains show (with their new singer) and I thought it was ridiculous how much merch they were selling…. I feel Against Me! is selling just as much if not more!

To start the set Laura Jane walks out and takes the mic. She says something to the effect of “When we booked these shows we realized that As the Eternal Cowboy is only like 25 minutes long and that is with extended endings and beginnings. And New Wave is only like 27 minutes long. So we realized that we need to play more songs for these shows. So we decided that tonight we are going to play songs just from the first three albums and tomorrow night we will play songs just from the next three albums…..”

Needless to say when I hear this my energy/emotion/heart/whatever jumps to the next level. A joyous feeling is occurring!

Laura then jumps into an acoustic version of “Walking is Still Honest.”

The full band then walks out. The sound is great in the venue. They play a few more songs from Reinventing and then they jump into Cowboy and play straight through. Multiple times during the Cowboy set Laura comments about how smooth the set is going!

For myself, it is special seeing all these songs in one place at one time. Over the years I have heard most of these songs at different shows, but never all together! My only tiny gripe (as well as the avoidance of “Unprotected Sex With Multiple Partners…..” damn I love that song) is that Ted Leo and The Pharmacists have a saxophone player, but said saxophone player does not join Against Me! for “The Disco Before The Breakdown.” I feel that is a missed opportunity. I want to relive one of my favorite fan memories….. In 2007 in Eugene, the first time I truly saw Against Me (Warped Tour doesn’t count) a fan jumped on stage and played (I believe it was a Trombone, my memory is a little fuzzy) along with the band!

For years I have had this dream of seeing "Baby, I’m An Anarchist!" followed by "We Laugh at Danger and Break All The Rules" and on this night it finally happens!

What an experience!

I wake up the next morning hungover and contemplate not attending night 2 just because there is no way (in my mind) they could top the previous night’s performance. I love Against Me! and I really enjoy some songs off New Wave so logic wins and I attend. I show up a late and miss A Giant Dog and most of Ted Leo and The Pharmacists.

Tonight, the whole band opens the show and they start off by playing all of New Wave straight through. One particular highlight is seeing the band play (Sara)

Throughout the night Against Me! play their two most hated songs which is interesting and Laura touches on the subject by stating something to the effect of, “we really upset the ‘punks’ with this one.” The youngster in front of me yells, “fuck punk rock!” They play “Animal” from New Wave and I’m not sure what the name of the second most hated song (or maybe it is the most hated!).

The second night definitely has a different crowd than the first night. If I were to guesstimate I would guess the first night had about 100-200 more attendees. There were probably around 7 or 8 instances of crowd surfing on the first night. On the second night I would say there are at least 40 instances of crowd surfing!

Do I love a lot of the songs they played on the second night? Not really, but the songs are tight and the crowd is passionate. 

Here is the thing, I am witnessing kids/adults that love these songs as much or more than I love the songs that were played the previous night.

Members of the audience are singing and going as hard (or harder) than I was the night before! And, in my mind, that is what Against Me! will forever represent.