Against Me! / Cheap Girls / Fences - live in Spokane (Cover Artwork)
Staff Pick

Against Me! / Cheap Girls / Fences

live in Spokane (2011)

live show

When I first heard Against Me! were touring with Cheap Girls this winter, I was extremely excited. My favorite band touring with one of the best up-and-comers of the past couple years–how could I lose? Just a few months earlier, after a cancelled European tour with no explanation, many, including myself, were doubting if the band even had a future. This was great news. However, when the dates were announced and I learned that the tour wasn't coming to my home state of Colorado, I was pretty bummed. I really didn't want to have to settle for seeing AM! play a measly opening set for the Dropkick Murphys in a 5,000+ capacity venue. After learning one of my closest friends was attending the Spokane date, I figured it'd be worth biting the bullet, grabbing some plane tickets and making the trip out.

We arrived at the Knitting Factory not long after doors opened, and I was surprised at a few things. A solid 60% of the venue was taken up by seats. SEATS. Also, there were kids who couldn't have been older than 13 in attendance. Not counting Warped Tour, I had never seen AM! in an all-ages environment. It's great that younger kids are getting involved in this scene, if not a bit surprising.

Opening band Fences took the stage at 8:00 p.m. The best way I can describe their set is that it wasn't terrible, but it was pretty damn boring. The band didn't seem that enthused to be there, save for their drummer, who accounted for roughly 100% of the band's energy. Their sound could best be compared to Photo Album-era Death Cab for Cutie, but once again, really boring. Their vocalist had Hank Hill tattooed on his wrist. So that was pretty cool. Their set was thankfully short and pretty easy to ignore.

After a longer-than-I-anticipated set change, Michigan's Cheap Girls took the stage. Having never seen them before, and loving them since I first heard My Roaring 20's back in late 2009, I was looking forward to them almost as much as the headliners. They were extremely tight, and played most of the songs I wanted to hear. My only complaint is that Ian Graham's vocals were a little low in the mix. I didn't mind as I was singing along to every word, but if one wasn't familiar with the band, I would imagine the songs without the vocals could come across as kind of same-y. I'm just nitpicking, though; they played extremely well and I certainly wasn't disappointed. Anyone who still hasn't checked Cheap Girls out should do so as soon as possible.

Set list:

  1. Parking Lot
  2. Something That I Need
  3. Stop Now
  4. Modern Faces
  5. Hey Hey, I'm Worn Out
  6. Pure Hate
  7. Gone All
  8. Kind of on Purpose
  9. No One to Blame
  10. Like Hell
  11. Ft. Lauderdale
  12. Sleeping Weather
  13. A Lesser Rate
  14. Through to Me

After what seemed like forever, Against Me! finally made their way to the stage, new members Jay Weinberg and Tom Gabel's long hair in tow. They came firing out of the gate with the 1-2-3 punch of "Pints of Guinness Make You Strong", "From Her Lips to God's Ears (The Energizer)" and "Cliché Guevera". The crowd exploded.

Against Me! has always been a great live band; it's a huge part of what attracted me to them in the first place, but this just may have been the finest show I've seen them play to date. Weinberg's energy seemed to have lit a fire under the group's collective ass, and you could tell they were having a great time. They were all smiles, as was the crowd. It was the exact opposite of Fences' set earlier in the evening. From the Reinventing Axl Rose-era material to the few songs from last year's divisive White Crosses, every song was well-received by the crowd, who were singing along, fist-pumping, finger-pointing, and above all, smiling.

The band stuck to their usual motif of playing as many songs as possible with little-to-no breaks in between, and giving the crowd their money's worth. Tom did pause to pose for a photographer who ran on stage (who was then promptly escorted out by security), and to thank the other bands and fans for coming out, but that was about it. After an amazing batch of closing songs, they said goodnight, before coming out for an even more amazing batch of closing songs. They ended the night with the first two tracks from 2002's The Disco Before the Breakdown EP and two tracks from Reinventing Axl Rose: "Baby, I'm an Anarchist" and "We Laugh at Danger (and Break All the Rules)". I left the building with sore ribs, my voice gone, and a smile on my face. After witnessing how powerful this new lineup is, I'm considering going to that Dropkick Murphys tour after all.

Set list:
  1. Pints of Guinness Make You Strong
  2. From Her Lips to God's Ears (The Energizer)
  3. Cliché Guevara
  4. High Pressure Low
  5. Don't Lose Touch
  6. New Wave
  7. White Crosses
  8. Rice and Bread
  9. I Was a Teenage Anarchist
  10. The Ocean
  11. White People for Peace
  12. Americans Abroad
  13. Reinventing Axl Rose
  14. Walking Is Still Honest
  15. You Look Like I Need a Drink
  16. Turn Those Clapping Hands Into Angry Balled Fists
  17. T.S.R.
  18. Bamboo Bones
  19. Thrash Unreal
  20. Miami
  21. Sink, Florida, Sink
  22. The Disco Before the Breakdown
  23. Tonight We're Gonna Give it 35%
  24. Baby, I'm an Anarchist
  25. We Laugh at Danger (and Break All the Rules)