TVD Live: Against Me! at the House of Blues, 6/28

On Sunday night, after Against Me! played a killer 20+ song set, I thought it appropriate to wait outside for about 2 hours for a chance to meet the band. How many times in my life was I going to be able to meet a band I respected so much and had followed for years?

The buzz from the show was still ringing in our ears and in our veins as people perched on the sidewalks near the tour buses. When Laura Jane Grace finally came out, she was greeted with hugs, gratitude, and stories of personal turmoil and bravery. Inge Johansson and Atom Willard also came out to greet fans. When asked how he felt about the Cleveland crowd, Willard said, “This crowd, the energy was so high… you could feel it, you know? And we’re really receptive to that.” This was a perfect explanation of the night, because both the audience at the House of Blues and Against Me! gave it their all.

Donning a “Gender is Over” tank, Against Me! frontwoman Laura Jane Grace took center stage, her powerful presence invoking deafening hollering from the crowd and clenched fists pumping in the air as the band opened their set with “Unconditional Love.” Grace beamed at the throng letting the cheers soak in and energize her—wide-eyed and wild-haired, strumming her guitar as she paced the stage. Bassist Inge Johansson and drummer Atom Willard matched Grace’s intensity while guitarist James Bowman took a calmer approach.

Although the tour was in support of the latest album, Transgender Dysphoria Blues, the band played a lengthy set, handpicking songs throughout Against Me!’s entire discography. Notable songs included the anthemic “White Crosses,” crowd favorite “Thrash Unreal,” and my personal favorite “FuckMyLife666.”

The House of Blues was teeming with rambunctious technicolor youngsters which gave way to the hot and steamy mosh pit everyone secretly loves. By the third song, the crowd surfers had already started floating over the audience into the loving arms of security at the front. The crowd up in the balcony was unfortunately too tame for the energy that was radiating off of the walls of the venue. Special shout out, however, to the one girl in the entire balcony section who knew she was at a punk show and stood up front and center, leaning over the edge singing the words to every song Against Me! played.

With the final notes of “Bamboo Bones,” someone in the crowd held up their middle fingers. Perplexed, Laura Jane Grace called him out with a stream of questions, “What’s the middle finger for? Fuck this song? Does it make you uncomfortable? It makes ME uncomfortable!” Adjusting her guitar strap, Laura Jane turned back to the mic and playfully scoffed “See how I didn’t give you the chance to respond? Because I got the mic.” With the audience member served, Grace played a solo version of “Because of the Shame.”

After packing in a 20 song set that ended on “True Trans Soul Rebel,” Against Me! did not leave their fans hanging for too long as they surged into a 4 song encore with an apropos cover of The Replacements’ “Androgynous.” Finishing strong, the band went back in time, pulling out the classics “Pints of Guinness Make You Stronger” from Reinventing Axl Rose, “Pretty Girls (The Mover)” from Searching for a Former Clarity, and finishing strong with “Sink, Florida, Sink” off of 2003’s As the Eternal Cowboy.

Here’s the complete set list from Sunday night’s show at the Cleveland House of Blues:

Unconditional Love
Walking Is Still Honest
Cliché Guevara
You Look Like I Need a Drink
White Crosses
Spanish Moss
Dead Friend
Transgender Dysphoria Blues
The Ocean
T.S.R. (This Shit Rules)
I Was a Teenage Anarchist
How Low
Bamboo Bones
Because of the Shame
Thrash Unreal
Black Me Out
True Trans Soul Rebel

Androgynous (The Replacements cover)
Pints of Guinness Make You Strong
Pretty Girls (The Mover)
Sink, Florida, Sink

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