Concert: Against Me!

by Adrian Bryksa

Even as i approach my 30’s, I still get a strange feeling of anticipation before a show. I mean, its not everyday that 2 of the Top 25 greatest live bands right now (SPIN) come barrelling into dusty old Calgary. Whether I am hanging with a crew, or listening to tunes in a room by myself that old tremendous surge starts building. Tonight’s show was no different as my comrade KJ and I hiked down to The Warehouse, the Calgary institution for live shows and alternative music. We decided to head down early to get a chance to survey the crowd that had gathered to see Florida’s favorite punk sons, Against Me!

As we toured outside the venue looking at the young turks, we headed to the back of the venue to the band entrance and got a chance to meet Freddy Castro of the Riverboat Gamblers and a couple of members of Fake Problems. He decided to share his American Spirits and we had a chat about the tour. He waxed about how their tour van was broken into in Montreal and how equipment was stolen specifically his guitar. Life of the touring musician isn’t always glamorous but Freddy kept a smile on his face the whole time telling us how they got ripped off. With a handshake, we departed and wished him a good show. Next stop was the local liquor store to get primed up before the show. Once those beers were done, we made our way through the doors of the hallowed venue.

Agaisnt Me!Against Me!

The show kicked off with Fake Problems, an up and coming act out of Naples, Florida. Fake Problems sonically reminded me of a lo-fidelity Against Me! with a similar stylized alt-country pop punk hues. I think I would see them again although I believe some additional road and studio time would be appropriate. I think it would really tighten up their sound and help them carve out their own place.

Hailing from Denton, Texas The Riverboat Gamblers (Volcom Entertainment) sound puts the rock in punk rock. Tonight however they played their set to a tough crowd. Singer Mike Wiebe showed shades of a young Iggy Pop mixed with a tinge of Black Crows front-man Chris Robinson. He paced the stage, climbed into the pit and basically tricked off the booths and hung from the rafters. With a valiant effort, the Gamblers plowed through their set with failing vocals and the annoying tweaking and alteration of the sound board. When the crowd is in the building to see the headlining act, the openers need to do something unbelievable to win the crowd and I didn’t feel the Gamblers were victorious this night.

Riverboat GamblersRiverboat Gamblers

The crowd was at full attention when the lads from Against Me! (Sire) took the stage. Hailing from Gainesville, Florida they incorporate alt-country, folk and punk sensibilities into their approach. Forget a thoughtful address of the crowd, the only noise from the group was the familiar drum march intro and twangy Rickenbacker charge of the song ‘Pints of Guinness Make You Strong’. From that point on, the music came in intense waves like the building drunk off some backwater moonshine. There was no break by the band; the music, sweat and spit poured out of the foursome who were puddles by the end of their set. As an independent observer, what makes this group so fantastic is that these guys appear to be doing exactly what they love the most, which is presenting their music and relishing in hearing the words sung back to them by the audience. From the songs ‘Don’t Lose Touch’ to ‘Rice and Bread’ to ‘Reinventing Axl Rose’ to ‘From Her Lips to God’s Ears’, Against Me! solidified their place on the top 25 greatest live bands, and on my list of top 3 concerts/shows I have ever been to. Their new album ‘New Wave’ drops in 2007 and it is one my most anticipated to this point. If this review has you interested, a live concert disk recorded in London, England in 2006 is out there as well.

Post show, collecting my thoughts with KJ and our new friend Sarah, it was hard to speak with raw throats and listen to each other with the echo of the amps rattling our ears. The tour was stopping in Edmonton next and Sarah had made the commitment to haul up the QE2 to catch the show. After talking to her later, she pondered following the band to Winnipeg for the next show. Thats the effect Against Me! had on her, what effect will they have on you?

  • Concert: Against Me!
  • by Adrian Bryksa
  • Published on April 22nd, 2007
The Warehouse

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