Against Me! at Bogart's in Cincinnati, OH
Against Me! at Bogart's in Cincinnati, OH

Against Me! Bogart’s, Cincinnati, OH October 3, 2017

Story and photos by Maggie Down

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Right off the bat I have to drop all pretenses that this will be an unbiased review of Against Me!’s October 3rd show at Bogart’s in Cincinnati, OH. So I will start with the opening acts Canada’s The Dirty Nil and LA’s Bleached: two high-energy rock acts that warmed up the crowd perfectly. There was dancing and headbanging and general feeling of fun.

The Dirty Nil, a 3-piece from Hamilton, Ontario, opened the show. The lead singer Luke Bentham flirted with the audience while blowing impressive bubbles with his bubble gum throughout the set. The Dirty Nil’s bass player was the standout of the set who you could tell was genuinely having a good time on stage, and the crowd loved it.

Bleached, helmed by sisters Jennifer and Jessica Clavin played a great straightforward pop punk/rock set that perfectly bridged sets between The Dirty Nil and Against Me! The highlight of the set was during the last song when the members really showcased their musicianship between great guitar riffs from lead guitarist Jennifer and Jessica taking to the drums and pounding out a strong finale to their set.

As a newly minted trans woman, Against Me’s Laura Jane Grace has been a beacon of light in the fog of gender dysphoria and navigating the world at large as an out and proud trans woman. I wasn’t prepared for how visceral the opening chords to “True Trans Soul Rebel” would feel as they kicked off the set. My date wrapped their arms around me as both of us let the chills wash over us. They immediately went into “I Was a Teenage Anarchist” and I had resigned myself to completely losing my voice. They blew through two more songs (“Provision L-3” and “From Her Lips to God’s Ears”) before Grace addressed the crowd with anything more than the wide smiles through the veil of her hair between songs.

Grace mentioned that they were halfway through a two-and-a-half month tour. My first thought was that they had more energy and character and fun on stage than bands I’d seen on the second week of tours half as long. Grace mentioned the tour would culminate with their appearance in the band’s de facto hometown of Gainesville, FL at The Fest in which they would be playing their seminal album Against Me! Is Re-inventing Axl Rose in its entirety. Grace said that she didn’t think it would be fair to those who couldn’t make it to Gainesville that they couldn’t hear some of the songs from the album. The band then went into “Jordan’s First Choice” and “Walking is Still Honest” to a (continued) raucous crowd participation. I am loathe to call any experience “a religious experience” but at one point, several people (myself included) had their hands in the air as if this was some sort of evangelical service a Laura Jane Grace was our preacher.

I wouldn’t be surprised if everyone in the audience was expecting a Tom Petty cover at some point, and we were not disappointed. After Grace gave a brief history of her love for Tom Petty (including a story of strumming along on a tennis racket as a child to Full Moon Fever, the first CD she ever owned) The band went into a cover of “Running Down a Dream” from the aforementioned Full Moon Fever with Grace on acoustic guitar. Against Me! played songs from all over their catalog and the crowd loved it all. We sang and clapped and raised our fists (and middle fingers during “Black Me Out” a tribute to the line “I’ve got fat fucking fingers”).

After closing out the 21-song set with “Thrash Unreal” the band exited the stage behind the second of two backdrops used. Grace came back onstage with an acoustic guitar and played a solo cover of The Mountain Goats’ song “The Best Ever Death Metal Band in Denton” from the forthcoming compilation I Only Listen To The Mountain Goats (Merge Records. April 6th 2018). The crowd swayed and lighters were raised. Grace followed it up with the acoustic “Two Coffins for Sleep.” The swaying continued, the lighters remained lit. The next song, “Pints of Guinness Make You Strong” has some particular resonance with me as a sober person. To be honest though, Laura and Against Me’s whole existence has a particular resonance with me, from my political ideology to my transness and back.

They closed out the encore with “Baby I’m an Anarchist,” “Sink Florida Sink,” and “We Laugh at Danger (And Break All the Rules).” In the end, the 90+ minute set was all energy and fun and passion and love and I don’t ever want to miss another Against Me! show within 100 miles of home.

Set List: True Trans Soul Rebel I Was A Teenage Anarchist Provision L-3 From Her Lips to God’s Ears (The Energizer) Miami New Wave Up the Cuts Jordan’s First Choice Walking is Still Honest Haunting Haunted Haunts Delicate, Petite & Other Things I’ll Never Be Running Down A Dream Unconditional Love Those Anarcho Punks Are Mysterious 333 Dead Friend Transgender Dysphoria Blues The Ocean Bamboo Bones Reinventing Axl Rose Black Me Out Thrash Unreal

Encore: The Best Death Metal Band in Denton – The Mountain Goats (cover) Two Coffins Pints of Guiness Make You Strong Baby, I’m an Anarchist Sink, Florida, Sink We Laugh at Danger (And Break All the Rules)

To submit a review or story for consideration hit us at [email protected]

Check out the Live Music News and Facebook page for updates and announcements.