Well, I can. A time when all was well and nothing else mattered, but sweating your ass off in a small basement venue with your best buds holding each other's shoulders, blaring out the lyrics along with the band. Yes, indeed I am recalling old Against Me! shows. The concerts that were certainly unbeatable by any band, with memorable openers such as Epoxies, the Soviettes, Fake Problems, Riverboat Gamblers, etc... Ah, these shows were what made my high school youth. I fucking loved Against Me!.
The last time I had seen them before this show in Columbia was back in 2007, circa the New Wave tour. The ballet was amazing: World Inferno/Friendship Society up first, then Sage Francis, and ending with AM!. However, Against Me!'s set and performance was lackluster, other than their encore. Now, I didn't mind New Wave; I thought it was enjoyable. White Crosses, however, I cannot stand.
I wanted to see Against Me! before the album was released, but they never headlined a St. Louis show (my hometown) since '07, So, I drove about an hour and a half to Columbia, a college town. I thought maybe the White Crosses songs might sound better than the over-produced studio recordings. When I arrived, I was first in line. The fanbase was nothing that it used to be: the "oi-oi punkers" were completely absent, being replaced with frat boys, hicks and drunk girls.
The night opened up with a rockabilly four-man group, whose name I can't recall. They obviously enjoyed what they did, blaring out a kazoo solo at one point.
The Humanoids played second, consisting of outdated punk jams that were completely repetitive. I give them credit for being from St. Louis, but they didn't do anything for me personally.
And then it happened. Against Me! walked onto the stage. Tom Gabel looked dashing in his usual all-black attire and a giant grin on his face. I was surprised to see Andrew replaced by a skinny bass player I had never seen. Franz from World/Inferno took over the keyboards, along with James and George taking their positions. I predicted the opener, "White Crosses," which got a pleasing reaction from the crowd. The pit wasn't rough, but people did sing along to the words. "Pints of Guinness Make You Strong" was second. The infamous opening drumbeat by Warren wasn't the same by George, who slowed it down some. This song made me happy, though, as it was played well. I danced and sang, reminiscing the past.
They played A LOT of new stuff, adding in some old favorites such as "Miami" and "I Still Love You Julie." Tom even had to remind Franz the lyrics of "Miami," but he had no problem singing along to the White Crosses jams. I'm sorry, but that man is just as big of an annoyance as Butch Vig's producing. The New Wave/White Crosses songs were known by the audience, but the others not so much. It was almost torturing to watch the fans sing "I Was a Teenage Anarchist," which got the biggest reaction. What was surprising was the lack of attention received from "Don't Lose Touch." At one point I looked back, but just saw blank faces. The set ended with "Sink, Florida, Sink," in which it was pleasing to sing along with Tom, as he looked ever-so happy. The set was short, with no intermissions between the songs and no talking, other than a "Thank you." The encore opened with "Rapid Decompression," which made no sense what-so-ever. Second was "Cliche Guevara." I was surprised to hear it, but was quite pleased. As predicted, they ended with "Baby, I'm an Anarchist."
I miss the old Against Me! shows, but I'm not going to sit here and bitch about White Crosses any more than I have. I'm happy for Tom Gabel, who is doing what he wants to do. What upsets me is that after such a long time of not seeing the band, it was just a big letdown. The band didn't communicate at all with the audience and the audience themselves were just disappointing. If they come to STL, I'll go, in hope to hear one of those old tunes, but for now I'll just have to wait.
- White Crosses
- Pints of Guinness Makes You Strong
- I Was a Teenage Anarchist
- High Pressure Low
- Up the Cuts
- I Still Love You Julie
- Borne on the FM Waves
- Don't Lose Touch
- Bamboo Bones
- New Wave
- White People for Peace
- Sink, Florida, Sink
- Rapid Decompression
- Cliche Guevara
- Baby, I'm an Anarchist