Last night, you could cross over the Ben Franklin Bridge, pass under the arches into Philly’s Chinatown and be greeted by a plethora of denim jackets, black jeans, tattoos and the anticipation that can only come from some of punk’s most devout fans. “No moshing and no crowd surfing,” said one of the bouncers outside. We’ll see how that goes.
Touring in support of their outspoken new record, Transgender Dysphoria Blues, Florida anthem-punks Against Me! rocked a packed house at the Trocadero with the help of a few friends. Seattle garage rockers Big Eyes kicked off the night with a set full of irresistible hooks and energetic lo-fi grooves. Following them was former Ovens member Tony Molina, whose live set packs the same quick-hitting ’90s guitar style punch as his records. Wasting almost no time at all between songs that barely ever reached the two-minute mark, Molina and his band were able to cover a great deal of their catalog within their allotted brief time slot.
When Laura Jane Grace stepped out onto the dimly lit stage, the place erupted, and as the band rocketed through FUCKMYLIFE666, the crowd began to congeal into a swaying, moshing organism. It wasn’t too long before a girl in a bright green sweater began her run for “Most Crowd Surfs Ever Completed During a Set.” (There must be a trophy for that sitting in some glass case somewhere…) Even with all the physical energy being expelled, the crowd was able to sing along with pretty much every word Grace was belting out, including new material from Dysphoria, which was given a sizable amount of space in the set. I Was A Teenage Anarchist from White Crosses and Thrash Unreal from New Wave incited the loudest crowd participations and Grace, sporting one of the most infectious smiles in the business, was very appreciative. She treated the set with the same confident transparency found on Dysphoria, at one point encouraging the audience to do the same by having everyone shout out the names of the first person they slept with.
The band returned for an explosive encore which was capped off with a specially dedicated performance of the raw, anthemic We Laugh At Danger And Break All the Rules. It was a perfectly personal way to send the super-charged, middle-finger raising crowd out into the calm, spring night.