Against Me! / Smoke Or Fire - live in Richmond (Cover Artwork)
Staff Pick

Against Me! / Smoke Or Fire

live in Richmond (2005)

live show

Ever gone to a show alone? It's weird. Kinda like seeing a movie alone. When it's going on, you don't mind, but in retrospect, you think "gee, what a loser I am." Eh, nothing new there.

Three friends bail on me last minute; one working, one sick, one caring for sick person (his fiancé). Oh well, if you wanna miss Against Me!, that's your loss. Due to a pre-show interview, I missed the Pink Razors, but came in just as Smoke Or Fire was setting up.

Now comes a time when I have to remove a foot from the inside of my mouth. I had only heard a little of Jericho or JerichoRVA or whatever the hell they were calling themselves, and thought simply "meh," "M-E-H." Then they change their name to Smoke Or Fire, and whoopidy-doo. I listen to the new album; wowsa, impressed, but still unwilling to take everything back. They hit the stage with the opening track from the new Fat debut Above the City, "California Is Burning." Holy shit. Through a brief set, they rocked, and I mean fucking rocked. I wish I could tell you more of that they played, but I didn't catch the set list, and wasn't too familiar with their material. But let me say this: if you are at all on the fence about these guys, catch their live show, as it truly captures a sense of rock, spirit and fun that I haven't witnessed in a long time.

Here's a subtlety about Against Me! you may or may not have noticed. I consider them to be a pretty popular band; they draw decent crowds and have a fairly strong following. But every time I have seen them play (I believe this was my 5th or 6th), they NEVER come out to dramatic or hip opening music. Never. They just come out, say "hi," grab their instruments, check their levels, and rock the fuck out. Nothing against the bands that do this (I love Avail playing David Allen Coe), but this is just as down to earth as you can get.

Anyways, I wanted a certain opener, and after a brief sound check, I got it. "Cliché' Guevara" sent everyone into a fist-pumping surge of chaos. This would be the first of an almost entire set of singing-alongs. Their playlist was rather well-rounded, consisting of a good mix from Reinventing Axl Rose and As the Eternal Cowboy. Your humble narrator's favorites included "You Look Like I Need A Drink," "Potatoes, Rice and Bread," "Pints Of Guinness Make You Strong," "Those Anarcho Punks Are Mysterious," and a new one, titled on the set list as "Energizer." Very fast, very rockin'. And if they play it in your town, watch Warren on the drums for this one; the man is a maniac.

Against Me! hold a quality that we see so very little of in bands today: they love to play. And I mean that in a sense that the listener/viewer can easily tell that they love what they do, and aren't afraid to show it. No bullshit frowns, or cocky attitudes, just smiles the entire show, for every minute of every song.