w/ Off With Their Heads and The Outsiders
Saturday 14 May 2011
Third time lucky, or so the saying goes. After a few failed attempts, Against Me! finally came back to New Zealand for their White Crosses tour. As annoyed as I was when they cancelled the tour last time, the Saturday night show was enough to make up for it.
Local Wellington band The Outsiders were a good choice for an opening act, their shouty style of punk being similar in style to AM! They played a blistering set of punk rock fury that set the trend for the rest of the night. Supporting act Off With Their Heads played well too, but all their songs seemed to sound the same. Not that this is a bad thing, but a bit of variety wouldn’t have hurt either.
Opening song “From Her Lips to God’s Ears” set the crowd off. The highlight for me was “I Was a Teenage Anarchist”, one the major singles from their latest album. I was also quite thrilled to hear “Amputations”, from frontman Tom Gabel’s solo record, Heart Burns. I hadn’t expected the band to delve into Gabel’s solo work to add to their set.
The venue was small, and quite tightly packed. Despite the amount of bodies crammed into such a small place, the heat wasn’t overbearing. The smaller area just made it a better, more intimate show. And, of course, the best part about having so many people crammed into a confined space is that there were plenty of opportunities for crowd surfing and stage dives. The poor stage crew were trying rather hard to keep people off the stage, but many managed to get onstage and yell a few lyrics at Gabel’s microphone before getting pushed off.
The band didn’t move around much, but there was no doubt that they invested plenty of energy into their performance. Gabel was dripping with sweat. And one of the drummer’s crash cymbals got destroyed. All the members shouted the lyrics to the songs with great gusto, as did much of the crowd. A good portion of the audience seemed to know all the words to all the songs, and for those who didn’t, there were plenty of “woahs” and “ba ba da’s” to join in with.
The set was well paced. The band kept the banter to a minimum, and just delivered the goods. Song after song, the crowd was just lapping it up.
The band left for a breather, but after a few minutes of the crowd chanting for more the band came back on for more. Rather than the usual one or two song encore that most bands seem to do these days, AM! played “Stop!”, and then a good four or five songs, leaving the punters more than happy.
This is exactly how a punk show should be: fast, fun and political.
Despite having sung about it during their set, Against Me! certainly haven’t lost their touch