Laura Jane Grace, vocalist and guitarist of Against Me!, looks happier than ever and she has a handful of pretty damn good reasons to. Their latest album, Transgender Dysphoria Blues, was released to great acclaim earlier this year and most of their current tour is sold out. Not to mention two years after very bravely starting the public transition to living as a woman, Grace seems to have renewed energy and the passion of someone who gets to stand on stage every night and take part in a very important conversation on acceptance, on bravery, on community, and on Trans* issues.
Against Me! plays the sort of snarling rock that incites a shaken fist—over their seventeen year career they’ve gone from Florida basements to huge, swelling rooms, but somehow have managed to retain an audacity and attitude that has kept much of their fan base around. With such an ample back catalogue, the band has a lot of ground to cover during live shows, but managed to sweep the gamut of their discography and still play a handful of songs from Transgender Dysphoria Blues; they opened with “FUCKMYLIFE666” and scattered other new songs like “Black Me Out,” “Unconditional Love” and “True Trans Soul Rebel” throughout the set.
While touching on the new album, the band also made a generous nod to fans who’ve stuck around for a long time—songs like “Walking is Still Honest,” “Cliché Guevara,” and “I Was A Teenage Anarchist” sent the crowd into rolling enthusiasm, an eclectic group of that feels representative of the recent trajectory the band has taken. Though few original members of the band remain, the new iteration of their lineup lists a who’s who of heavy hitters from previous acts (Inge Johansson who has formerly played in (International) Noise Conspiracy and Refused as well as Atom Willard who has spent time in Rocket From The Crypt and Angels and Airwaves). Line up changes like this oftentimes can make a band lose steam, but this seems the opposite for the general vibe of the shows—there is a renewed sense of passion, of camaraderie.
Grace spoke sparingly during the set, but when she did it was in little encouragements and thank yous to the crowd. The air of the room was supportive and even the band seemed to be riding high off of the adrenalin of swinging fists, stage diving bodies and friends singing from side-stage.
Right before closing out the show with “Sink Florida Sink” (from 2003’s “As The Eternal Cowboy Rides”) Grace took a moment to embrace the crowd, smiling big. “I hope that you got what you wanted out of tonight,” she said. “Whether you wanted to dance, or clap or flip us off. I hope you fall asleep content tonight. Let’s make a point of seeing each other again soon.”
Words by J. Fletcher
Photos by Kimberly Lawson. More on Flickr.