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Against Me!

LIVE REVIEW: Against Me!, Vega, Copenhagen, 08.04.2015

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AgainstMe (press photo by Ryan Russel)

Laura Jane Grace may once have been a teenage anarchist, but it’s difficult to imagine a time when she was given to convenient politics. Yes, she’s still talking about a revolution. And as headliners go, few bands to play the stage at Lille Vega have been more mainstream than Against Me!, which underwent a personnel change in the wake of last year’s excellentTransgender Dysphoria Blues. Yet Grace has always valued experience over pretense, knowing full well that “making yourself up as you go along” is what killed punk music in the first place. Sometimes though, you have to depend on a bit of both to put on a good show.

Grace heads up centerstage with longtime fellow guitarist James Bowman to her left. To her right is Inge Johansson, former bassist of The (International) Noise Conspiracy, and in the back is Atom Willard, former drummer and founding member of Angels & Airwaves. On the opener “True Trans Soul Rebel”, the chorus blares like an emergency signal, calling all cars: “Who’s gonna take you home tonight/ Who’s gonna take you home?” They play it true to the record, sounding out all the hooks with the conviction of a band playing from the heart.

It’s admirable that this clean cut approach actually helps emphasize the vulnerability in Grace’s songwriting. In the dozen or so years since Reinventing Axl Rose, Grace has retained a keen sense of self that helps make the music of Against Me! as challenging as it is accessible—you don’t simply sing along to a line like “You’ve got no cunt in your strut/ You’ve got no hips to shake” without feeling the sting of those words. Still the crowd is right there, showing their recognition by singing along on the big numbers with outstretched arms.

Between songs it’s all grins. It’s not unusual that a band should want everyone to have fun, but with Against Me! there seems to be a deeper appreciation for the need to feel good. When she’s on, Grace is a storm, angled toward the mic like a hood ornament, each word a gale unto itself. Even if sometimes giving it your all is “Cliché Guevara”, it’s inspiring to feel that a person has taken full ownership over who she is. And for a band to share that with a room full of people is a hot kindness that makes us all feel good.

(Press photo by Ryan Russel)

PLAYLIST: Here Today’s Concerts – April

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We have updated our “Here Today Concerts” playlist.

The Twilight Sad (Loppen, 03.04.2015)

The Twilight Sad has just released their fourth studio album, Nobody Wants to Be Here and Nobody Wants to Leave, to raving reviews.  Drowned In Sound wrote:  “The Twilight Sad gave birth to one of the greatest British debut albums in living memory. That was in 2007 and just seven years later they’ve given us an indication that they could attain greatness on a par with MBV or The Jesus and Mary Chain. Hell, carry on like this and we’ll be comparing them with The Cure.” Sounds like a band you want to hear, right?

Eyehategod (Loppen, 07.04.2015)

Wearing earplugs to an Eyehategod show is as effective as wearing a bulletproof vest to a catapult festival. As veteran purveyors of sludge metal, the New Orleans outfit grind out blood-encrusted songs that fall on the exploding end of the noise spectrum. Their music is the sound gravity makes with a limitless supply of anvils and anchors, the spectacle of which will be well worth the price of admission.

Kate Tempest (Vega, 13.04.2015)

The obvious reference point to Kate Tempest debut album Everybody Down is the Streets’ second album, A Grand Don’t Come for Free. It is a conceptual album that tells the story of three characters battling loneliness in the big city, with each song representing a new chapter; a rather ambitious undertaking which the young Londoner gets away with quite well.

Calexico (Amager Bio, 14.04.2015)

Calexico specializes in music of the soul by sunset, a style and attitude inherent to the group’s home in the Mexican-American borderlands of Tucson, Arizona. Combining the warm acoustic arrangements of country and the brassy orchestration of Mexican folk music, they can get big and loud without being unwelcoming. Their forthcoming album Edge of the Sun is set to release on April 14, the day of their show at Amager Bio. If ever there were a time and a place…

White Hills (Loppen, 14.04.2015)

Psychedelic New-Yorkers White Hills haven’t released much material in the last couple of years, but that hasn’t kept them out of the lime-light. An appearance on Only Lovers Left Alive–a scene in which the vampiric Tilda Swinton, Tom Hiddelston and Mia Wasikowska gloomily headbang to the band in a Detroit club–has cemented their reputation as purveyors of far out cool. Loppen is certainly an appropriate venue for a band with the Jim Jarmusch seal of approval.

Grouper (Jazzhouse, 21.04.2015)

Having listened to Ruins, Liz Harris’ latest album as ambient act Grouper, it’s difficult to picture exactly what kind of performance she will put on at Jazzhouse. How do you haunt a stage the way that album haunts the mind? Undoubtedly with the aid of smoke and mirrors. Even if all that means is a bit of dry ice and some mood lighting, the aural component is smoke you can’t blow out, a mirror you can’t turn away from.

Moon Duo (Stengade, 22.04.2015)

If the East Coast psychedelia of White Hills isn’t enough for one month, Moon Duo are coming to Copenhagen to represent the West Coast. On the back of their latest critically-acclaimed album, Shadow of the Sun, the Duo will be kraut-rocking through Europe, leaving behind them a trail of burned rubber and broken speakers.

Colin Stetson (Jazzhouse, 22.04.2015)

Stetson’s New History of Warfare trilogy, recently completed, has gone a long way in redefining the capabilities of the saxophone. Thanks to circular breathing techniques and microphones inserted in strange places, Colin Stetson has turned the usually jaunty sax into an instrument of bleak and violent landscapes. Eerie pulsations and terrifying screeches are the order of the day, and we look forward to experiencing them in Lynchian environment of Jazzhouse.

Screaming Females (Loppen, 28.04.2015)

Actually there is only one female in the New Jersey Punk outfit Screaming Females, Marissa Paternoster. Even though she is tiny, she fills the stage in a way that stops the question “why are they called that then?” popping into your head. Her powerful vibrato and brutal guitar work is hard to match. Their 2012 album Ugly was recorded with Steve Albini and gained praise with publications such as Pitchfork. On their new album Rose Mountain the band explores new territory which results in a more refined sound which holds great promise for the future.

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