Before catching them as the opener on Green Day’s Revolution Radio tour earlier this year, I hadn’t seen Against Me! since the run of shows immediately following the release of 2014’s incredible Transgender Dysphoria Blues. In the time since, the band had released their latest album Shape Shift With Me and frontwoman Laura Jane Grace had released her staggering tell-all memoir.
While that 2014 show was fantastic, it was somewhere in the gap of three years from 2014 to 2017 that Against Me! really accepted and embraced their status as a legendary modern punk band. Despite many of their original punk purist fans calling them sellouts after their signing to Warner Brothers sub-label Sire Records for 2007’s New Wave, there were still a fair share anarchist punks sprinkled through the crowd at Detroit’s Majestic Theater, mohawked and clad in studded jackets… I guess time really does heal all wounds, as the mohawks could be seen peeking out of the mosh pit during New Wave cuts throughout the evening.
Against Me!’s headlining set was nothing but a reminder of how strong their entire discography still is to this day, with tracks from 2016’s underrated Shape Shift With Me garnering the same enthusiasm as full-band renditions of cuts from their raw first release Reinventing Axl Rose. Grace is a incredibly captivating frontwoman, and her band is tighter than ever, featuring longtime member James Bowman on lead guitar, Angels & Airwaves founding member Atom Willard on the drums, and The (International) Noise Conspiracy’s Inge Johansson on the bass.
In just under two two hours, the band tore through almost 30 songs, including acoustic covers of the Replacements’ “Androgynous” and the Mountain Goats’ “The Best Ever Death Metal Band in Denton.” “Walking Is Still Honest” saw the crowd tossing and turning, with crowd surfers passing overhead, while “Two Coffins” brought tears to their eyes. The setlist was nearly perfect, though it was sadly missing cuts like “White Crosses” and “F**KMYLIFE666.” Over the course of 30 songs, the quartet was able to touch almost every base of their seamless songwriting and earth-shattering live performance, delivering an incredibly memorable and reaffirming set.
Now seven full-lengths into their career, it is time to put aside biases of whether they sold out or not, and realize that Laura Jane Grace is a living legend. Against Me! deserves everything that’s coming to them, and there is still so much more to come. Check out Against Me!’s month of remaining tour dates — culminating in an appearance at Gainesville’s The Fest in Florida where they will be performing Reinventing Axl Rose in full — here.