I had a little apprehension for this show, for you see The Phoenix was where I would be attending the "Against Gambling Problems" tour, and while it isn't the worst venue in the world, on Friday nights it turns into a nightclub and shows are done by 10 o'clock. This meant I would have to rendezvous with my comrade for late-afternoon caps around 4:30 to make it to see Fake Problems at 6:30. When we arrived Fake Problems had already taken the stage; I didn't know any of their tunes either, so the enjoyment factor was lessened somewhat. Although the rest of the crowd was polite it was mostly standing around during their set. I decided, being the gracious fellow that I am, to start dancing and shimmying all over the place to get people going; that didn't work well, so I used this time to grab a beer or three at the bar.
Between bands, due to boredom and immaturity I got my friend to turn the free condoms she received into balloons and a fun time was had by all. Well, a fun time except for a few wincing prudes that is. So next up Riverboat Gamblers took to the stage, and it is true, they are definitely one of those bands that if their records haven't won you over their live show will. A small and sporadic pit got going during their set but the crowd was in general noticeably more energized. I attribute most of that energy to frontman Mike Wiebe. Through the course of the set he was all over the stage jumping around and singing into the crowd during highlights from their last album, such as, "True Crime" and "Don't Bury Me‚?¶I'm Still Not Dead." In fact there is this small balcony beside the stage and Mr. Wiebe decided to climb up to that during "The Art of Getting Fucked." I'm sure he isn't the first person to do so but he made it look like a lot of fun. Also, like any good drummer worth his weight, theirs proceeded to get half-naked and looked like he was having a hell of a time on stage. If anything Riverboat Gamblers proved themselves to be a wise choice for a main support band because even if the crowd isn't as devoted to them as the main act, they can still encourage a good amount of crowd participation.
For me it would be interesting to see if there was any backlash crowd-wise toward Against Me! since the Sire signing. I for one was waiting for Tom to come out in a football jersey, bandana and dreadlocks. Truthfully, the crowd did seem a bit smaller than the last time I saw them, but other than that it didn't really seem like there were any hecklers present to try and stick it to Gainesville's sons. Another thing I noticed was that the crowd seemed by and large younger; I'm not sure if that was because the rest of the old folks were at the bar or what. Against Me! didn't take long to come out but in the meantime a couple of sing-alongs broke out in the crowd (it was all fine and dandy then but when I was singing along to the Dillinger Four playing on the sound system I get weird looks). The band came out as is the custom to "A Brief Yet Triumphant Intermission (Introduction)" and the crowd went bo-nanas. The first song they played was "Pints of Guinness Make You Strong" and it was good to see the band passionately rocking out to one of their older jams. I'll take this opportunity to talk about a strange phenomenon that occurs at the recent Against Me! shows I've been to. Occasionally bands with lots of screaming young female fans (Brand New, Say Anything, etc.) will have this painful push toward the front and centre of the stage, Against Me! however get this odd torrent of sway that moves back and forth and side to side. The band gave it everything they had as they rollicked through such crowd favourites as "Don't Lose Touch" and "Sink, Florida, Sink" (I'd say this song constitutes for most of their own screaming girl fans for some reason). The band played three or four new songs as well, including, I believe, "White People for Peace." Musically the tone of these new songs seems a lot brighter than most of Searching for a Former Clarity, but lyrically appear to be just as biting. After the band finished their set they promptly and enthusiastically returned to the crowd's joyful shouts. For an encore they played "Disco Before the Breakdown," which I was really pleased to hear them play, and finally closed with "We Laugh at Danger and Break All the Rules." Although the band cut down on the stage banter some they are still mighty energetic in their stage presence. Since it was still early everyone collected their shoes and floated out into the streets with a battle in their hearts in search of Irish stout and Mexican wrestling.
Now here is the set list for Against Me!, it is by album and if anything is wrong excuse me because I was rather drunk and thirsty, and somehow received a gash in my beautiful head:
Reinventing Axl Rose
- Pints of Guinness Make You Strong
- Reinventing Axl Rose
- I Still Love You Julie
- We Laugh at Danger and Break All the Rules [encore]
- Disco Before the Breakdown [encore]
- Clich√© Guevara
- Sink, Florida, Sink
- You Look Like I Need a Drink
- From Her Lips to God's Ears (The Energizer)
- Don't Lose Touch
- Americans Abroad
- White People for Peace
- other new songs [the one Chris filmed in Richmond was played]