The Scene: The concert reportedly sold out at 1:30pm on the day of the show, which is fairly rare in the Punk scene; most people wait to buy tickets until they arrive to the venue. The line of people waiting for the show wrapped around Summit Music Hall before the doors opened. Once inside, kids lined up at the front of the stage before any bands appeared. There were a few Turbojugend (a Turbonegro fan club) patches spotted, most everyone wore black and white, most of the women wore canvas shoes and far too many men sported beards. Brightly colored hair seemed to be a thing of the past and only two Mohawks were spotted during the night. The crowd was a majority of punks with a spattering of rockers, combined with members of Denver’s LGBT community who came to the concert in a show of support for Against Me!’s transgendered singer, Laura Jane Grace.
Opener: Cheap Girls. Not many people seemed to enjoy the contemporary rock group from Lansing, Michigan. People were stone-faced and no one danced. The venue was packed from the time the doors opened, and although people weren’t necessarily enjoying the performance, they were packed in watching it. The band had a 90’s Rock feel, a four-chord playing “Fuzz Pop” band with catchy melodies. Cheap Girls was the first band to record at Grace’s recording studio Total Treble when it opened in 2011.
Opener: Laura Stevenson and The Cans. The Long Island based Laura Stevenson & the Cans had a small local following in the crowd. Vocalist Laura Stevenson had an Indie sound and her voice had a high-pitched lilting to it. Her drawn-out voice caught some reverberation that was at times painful for those standing close to the speakers for the band’s performance. One of the kids with a Mohawk was going nuts for the band, there were some heads bopping and most of the girls in attendance seemed to warm up to them by the time they ended. Neither of the bands that opened seemed like a good choice for the crowd of punks that showed up. One spectator even went as far as to comment that the choice of openers for the tour was a slap in the face for loyal fans.
Against Me!: Summit Music Hall was packed to the brim for Against Me!, leaving no room for a mosh pit, although some areas of the venue did see some action as well as some random crowd surfing. Fans were packed in the front like sardines all eager for glimpses of singer Laura Jane Grace (formerly Tom Gabel). Grace publicly revealed she was transgendered in May of 2012, and has since been living as a woman. The crowd let out a collective scream both as the lights dimmed and again as the band appeared onstage. Grace wore a white tank top with a pair of women’s breasts on it over a black bra (barely peeking out from underneath) and a pair of ripped black jeans. Grace’s voice remained unchanged, but she looked more feminine than the last time the band played in Colorado at Riot Fest in September, and seemed both happier and more confident in her continued self-evolution.
The band started the set with “True Trans Soul Rebel.” Beers were seen flying through the room as the energetic four-piece played “Cliché Guevara.” The new bassist, Inge Johansson (with the band since August 2013), held his own by jumping around the stage for the entirety of the performance. They played “New Wave” next, and the first crowd surfer appeared overhead. After that, the Gainesville, Florida based band played “Walking is Still Honest,” and continued the set by introducing “Unconditional Love.” Grace stopped the band in the beginning of the song, after seeing an altercation in the crowd, saying to an unruly audience member, “Don’t fucking push people, you’re a dickhead,” to which the crowd screamed and clapped in a huge show of support. Grace then reintroduced the song and continued playing it, followed by “I Still Love You Julie,” “FuckMyLife666,” and “Don’t Lose Touch,” which was definitely a crowd favorite.
During “I Was a Teenage Anarchist,” one guy ran off the stage into the crowd in an awesome stage dive, clearing ten feet at least. Everyone in attendance was supportive of the band, throwing fists and fingers in the air, singing along and screaming for everything that Grace said. Grace was the epitome of Punk Rock and commanded the stage for the performance, her naturally curly hair bounced around, occasionally shyly covering her face, accompanied by simple but stunning makeup. Grace danced around gracefully all night, shaking her tiny hips frequently.
Against Me! continued the set with “Turn Those Clapping Hands Into Angry Balled Fists,” and while Grace hammed it up onstage, girls in the audience started head banging; one woman even went as far as to throw her panties onstage. Atom Willard (drums), also new to the band (since July 2013), played perfectly and his part stood out as dark and passionate. Someone in the crowd lit up a joint as Grace introduced “Pretty Girls (The Mover),” and Grace commented that it smelled fantastic, before dedicating the song to all the young lovers in the audience. “Transgender Dysphoria Blues” played next as a crowd surfer cartwheeled gracefully to the front. “Miami,” “Americans Abroad,” and “Paralytic States” were next, followed by “Thrash Unreal,” which had women in the crowd screaming with excitement and the most crowd surfers of the night. “Black Me Out” was next, followed by “Ocean.” During the breakdown Grace addressed the crowd saying, “Thank you so very fucking much, I hope ya’ll get to see each other real soon, let’s make a point of it,” before finishing the song, cementing a camaraderie that was felt during the show.
The band finished the set with “Sink, Florida Sink,” and everyone in the venue seemed to know the song, singing with arms high in the air. When the song ended the screams from the crowd seemed to last for minutes and the entire front of the stage was lined with women beaming at Grace. The band came back onstage for an encore, playing “Pints of Guiness Make You Strong,” “Drinking With The Jocks,” and “We Laugh At Danger (And Break All The Rules).” Grace was visibly moved by the show of support from the crowd, and mouthed the words “thank you” repeatedly as she left the stage.
Stage Presence: A+
Set/Light Show: B