Standing in line for Against Me!, it occurred to me this might be an extremely late night. It was already 10:00 PM and the doors hadn’t opened. Most of the crowd just spent the entire day at Riot Fest. They seemed worn out from the sun, drinking, and loud music. A few desperate fans were offering three times the face value for a ticket. Nobody was selling. They were not going to miss a chance to see their favorite band perform in a small dark club late at night. The place and time God intended punk music to be performed.
|Laura Jane Grace|
Laura Jane Grace is the lead singer of the band Against Me! from Gainesville, Florida. The band recorded one of the best albums of 2014 entitled Transgender Dysphoria Blues. It’s full of fast paced catchy punk songs about …. being a woman stuck in a man’s body. Laura Jane Grace came out as transgender in 2012. With songs entitled True Trans Soul Rebel and Paralytic States it gives the listeners a unique insight. Not the typical subject for a punk album.
When the band hit the stage, the music festival fatigued audience went from yawning to wide-eyed frenzy. The majority of the crowd knew every song by heart. I first thought something was wrong with the sound system, but it was just a scary looking guy behind me singing badly to One of the Jocks, “there will always be a difference/ between me and you.” Her true-life struggles expressed in her music definitely created an emotional link with the punk crowd.
After performing The Clash’s Train in Vain, Grace stated the song was for all the Moms and Dads in the audience (the young crowd dressed in black glanced my way). Close to the end of their set, a guy from the mosh pit jumped on the stage, grabbed the microphone from bassist Inge Johansson, and sang. The band didn’t flinch and just smiled until the want-to-be-singer dived back into the crowd. You would assume security would tackle him, but the guy in the Marquis Theater shirt just took a deep sigh. It went with the theme of the night (acceptance of gender identity as well as acceptance of stage diving). It was close to 2:00 AM when the show ended. Against Me! played Riot Fest the following day. Later that morning, Laura Jane Grace tweeted, “I wish my band would recognize what a triumph of the human will and spirit it is that I actually showed up for lobby call this morning.” I agree because it took me an entire day to recover.
|Planes Mistaken for Stars|
Los Angeles, California quartet Bleached opened the show. Singer Jennifer Francis Clavin and her younger sister lead guitarist Jessica Carter Clavin took the band though a short set of high-energy pop punk. The highlight was their extremely infectious Wednesday Night Melody. It had a Joan Jett beat (I Love Rock N Roll), sing along lyrics, and a fake ending tease. Jessica Carter Clavin climbed on top of an amplifier to shred while waving her indigo colored locks to the delight of the sleepy crowd. It was the best guitar solo from someone with blue hair that I have ever witnessed.
See you at the next show. I’ll be the one comfortable with your gender identity.
|It went much later|