By Joe DeBonis
If you don’t feel an overall sense of happiness and joy emitting from a crowd at a punk show, either the band is doing it wrong or the people there just do not understand what the music is about. I have been to multiple punk shows where people don’t seem to understand how things work and are more worried about getting upset at moshers than enjoying the amazing music. I was fairly worried I was going to experience the ignorant crowd when I saw Against Me! to be honest. It really could have gone either way seeing as there are many punk fans in Albuquerque that are on the more anal side of things. When Laura Grace hit the stage with the biggest smile I have seen in a long time though, I knew it would all be ok. People moshed to be sure, but the smiles and energy and the pure elation that I felt around me made me feel more at home getting smashed around than even home in my own bed.
Grace just embodied everything that I believe punk music stands for: a willingness to do whatever you want if it makes you happy combined with an aggressive, fun loving swagger. She was happy to be on stage in front of adoring fans and she was happy just to be playing music. It sucks to see bands or acts that don’t act like what they are doing isn’t the best thing in the world. To appreciate fans is one of the greatest things an artist can do, and to appreciate them happily is even better. It is as simple as a smile every now and then or reaching into the crowd to high five people, and Grace did all of that and more the entire night.
Song wise, I recognized about half. Anything off Transgender Dysphoria Blues I was able to belt the lyrics along to simply because I had listened to it so much when it first came out. I also knew the two songs off of Against Me! Is Reinventing Axl Rose but other than that I just moshed along, listening to the diehard fans around me drown out Grace with their loving singing. It was so fun to be amongst so many people that loved the band the way they did. I was smiling because I was just happy that Grace was pumped on the show, but there were kids around me that must have been 100 times as happy because not only was Grace awesome, but they were seeing their favorite band live. I like Against Me! a lot but I can’t say they are my favorite band or anything. Thanks to all of the knowledgeable fans around me though I could feel like a super fan for one night and for that I was thankful.
This show just reminded me of how important punk is to me and to society in general. People need expressive music like this and it is awesome there are bands like Against Me! that can show people it is OK to do whatever they want to do. Punk is all about being yourself and Against Me! certainty brought that message home loud and clear that night.