Live. Against Me! The Face of Punk to Come.

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Against Me! The Face Of Punk To Come.

“Let’s fuck shit up!” Laura Jane Grace demands; body hanging from mic stand, guitar hanging from shoulder, crowd hanging on every word. The confrontational hammer of ‘Drinking With The Jocks’ has just cleared a path for the shuddering “I Was A Teenage Anarchist’ to run down. The crowd is as reactionary, engaged and flailing as you’d expect from the bands first headline shows in the UK since 2011. It’s not just the immediate physical fuckery that makes Against Me’s return such a sweeping triumph though.

Since the release of their sixth album, the glorious and gut-wrenching ‘Transgender Dysphoria Blues’, Against Me! or more specifically, Laura Jane Grace has been challenging the acceptable face of Punk. Her hyper personal struggle with Gender Dysphoria, a subject at the heart of the album but one that remains untouched by mainstream music and society as a whole, has provided a stepping stone for discussion, a point of reference for the issue and a platform of pure, unadultered expression.

Writing isn’t a choice, it’s done out of necessity. To satisfy that little voice, bands continually claim. Tonight, live and at home on record it genuinely feels like Laura had two choices. Two paths. Live or die.

But here she is. Grin etched on her face, flanked by passionate bandmates and before an enthused congregation. The songs, written at a time of despair, confusion and hopelessness, become glorious placards of celebration. Held aloft, the classical wailing of Osama Bin Laden As The Crucified Christ, the dinosaur stomp of “Talking Transgender Dysphoria Blues” or the alcohol soaked soul of ‘Dead Friends’ have become victorious anthems. Lessons heard fought. Beacons of hope.

There’s a beautiful moment midway through the evening where Billy the Kid joins the band for a frantic rendition of ‘Borne On The FM Waves’. They share a mic, arm in arm and face to face before an embrace after watching one another cut a unique swathe around the stage. It’s tender and feminine. For want of a better word, it’s a sisterhood.

As the closing howl of ‘We Laugh At Danger (And Break All The Rules)’ rings out, there’s a question mark over what comes next. Movement has sustained Laura Jane Grace for eleven months now and as that vehicle reaches the point of pause, darkness looms. Her bravery and the ability to wrestle hope out of clenched teeth is as inspiring as it is important. For now though, and forever more, Laura Jane Grace has changed music. She’s fucked shit up, in the most necessary and perfect way.

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~ by justdip on 08/01/2015.

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