“Laura! Laura! Laura!”
The usual restless Against Me! crowd has waited long enough. They are ready to jump around. They are ready to shout the words to well-memorized songs. They are ready to throw their hands up (into angry balled fists, of course).
But tonight is a different night and a different tour as Tom Gabel is no longer playing as such. She is Laura Jane Grace now. One has to wonder what Grace’s feelings are about playing large cities or small towns now as a transgender. Albany, New York is neither place. Most fans have been supportive either way and this crowd for sure was.
Starting out with a brand new song (and about three others were also performed that night), each member played with that kind of energy that has been perfected. Against Me! easily cruised through different eras of their discography. Just the bare bass density of Andrew Seward on “Don’t Lose Touch” was strong enough to move the floors. Guitarist James Bowman made “Miami” one to remember. Even drummer Jay Weinberg almost played standing up to a crowd favorite – “Thrash Unreal.” However the best all around performance of the night was a tie between “Sink, Florida, Sink” as the crowd insisted on being the vocalists and “Black Me Out” with Grace’s pure yelling intensity.
“Some chicks have dicks,” says Grace. And in perfectly applied black makeup eyes and heeled boots, she plays with the same power she always did except something’s different- she seems happier.
There is just no other way to close the show if you’re Against Me! but with “We Laugh at Danger (And Break All the Rules).” This is a band that has been through it all and puts on a live show that cannot be compared to any other. The crowd claps and shouts the anthem: “Mary, there is no hope for us if this G.M. van don’t make it across the state line we might as well lay down and die/ Because if Florida takes us we’re taking everyone down with us/ Where we’re coming from will be the death of us!”
This, and the message that night was neither gender nor sexuality matter. There is no frame that a person can simply fit in. What even is male? Or female? How about “fuck it” instead? That’s what made the cover of The Replacements‘ “Androgynous” earlier in the set so perfect.
Happiness is told by Grace’s smile that is ever so bright, white and vibrant. You can see it when she’s playing. She tells the crowd that what she’s feeling tonight, she hopes that we feel it too – and we did.
That feeling…that feeling was acceptance.