I try my best to avoid shows in a big venue. Drinks are always out of hand expensive. There are creepy bathroom attendants lurking. You can’t go outside and smoke. It’s all fucking ridiculous. But Against Me! is one of my favorite bands, and I have to go see them anytime they play anywhere near me. Since it’s not 2002 anymore, I’ll put away my pride and get felt up by security and stand on the outskirts of 1,500 other people. Whatever.
I got to the Concord Music Hall right as The Dirty Nil was taking the stage. I’m not going to lie. I was really tired and already slightly annoyed while I was going up the three flights of steps just to get to the main room. I was just in one of those bad moods for almost no reason. The room was already packed, but I’ve learned over the years that for some reason there is almost always a little pocket of room over on the right side of the stage. I squeezed my way in that direction and low and behold, it was empty. I was excited to see The Dirty Nil, although I knew almost next to nothing about the band. I know I’m an asshole and I have a reputation for not ever liking anything, but goddamn was I bored. I thought maybe it was because I was tired and not really in the mood for opening bands I don’t give a shit about, but even as I listen to their last album, Minimum R&B which came out on Fat Wreck Chords earlier this year, I’m still bored. I don’t know; this minimalist garage rock shit just isn’t for me.
I left my little area to go on an adventure AKA I made my way to the nearest bar to get a Red Bull Vodka.. But I was met with a demand for $12. Opening my wallet reminded me I haven’t had a job for over a month, so I settled for just the Red Bull hoping it would wake me the fuck up. The Dirty Nil was done so I moseyed back to stage right to wait for Bleached. It was around this time I noticed just how many douchey bros were in attendance. I found three of them waiting in my little right pocket, all discussing how “Tom Gabel is a chick now” and how they “totally would fuck the shit out of the babe in Bleached.” It was fucking infuriating. And for all you out there sitting behind your keyboards saying to yourself, “Why didn’t you say anything?” There were three of them. They were all very drunk and two of them were way fucking bigger than me. I’m not going to pick a fight with some juiced up jocks. But you better believe when Bleached started playing and the crowd began moving, one of those dudes caught an elbow right in the sternum. Also, the Red Bull started to kick in because I really enjoyed Bleached.
One of the drunk douche bros puked all over the floor. Everyone standing around the circle of puke, which looked exactly like peanut butter by the way, would cheer every time someone unknowingly stepped in the mess. Eventually a staff member showed up with a broom, but realized you can’t sweep this shit up. Then a guy showed up with a broom AND a mop, but he too left. It was then that the restless crowd began chanting, “Clean it up! Clean it up!” Finally, a guy with a mop and a bucket showed up and took care of business to the joy of everyone standing around. Cheers rang out – “Mop guy for president! Mop guy for President!”
Yet another reason I dislike big venues (or maybe this a more of a bigger band thing) is the excruciatingly long and boring wait for bands to finally take the stage. It’s such a dumb “Rockstar” move and I hate it. That being said, after an annoyingly long time, Against Me! finally decided to come out and play some tunes. I got my picture for our Instagram account and bailed to the back of the room. I’m too old and tired to be in the thick of it anymore. Against Me! played for well over an hour, hitting songs off of all of their LP’s except As The Eternal Cowboy. Well, they did squeeze “Sink, Florida, Sink” into the encore. They leaned heavy on Reinventing Axl Rose because, as Laura Jane Grace put it, “we are playing that album in full at The Fest, and we haven’t played a lot of these songs in a really, really fucking long time.”
All in all, it was a really weird show for me personally until I realized I finally checked a bucket list item off the list, see Against Me! play “I was a Teenage Anarchist” and “Baby, I’m an Anarchist” in the same night. Fucking best show ever!
A couple of quick notes before you enjoy Mat’s amazing photos:
1. If you are an 8 foot tall bro who has your other 8 foot tall bro save your spot right up on the barricade while you go piss and buy a beer, then get mad at ME when you can’t squeeze past everyone to get back to your spot, fuck off.
2. Don’t pretend you are not going to do an encore when your guitar tech is onstage tuning guitars after you leave.
3. Do you not feel weird playing the song “Reinventing Axl Rose” when tickets were $30+ dollars and T-Shirts were $20?
4. It’s still weird to me to hear bands say, “Thank you Chicago!”