From our experience, Against Me! never has an off night. However, with openers Planes Mistaken for Stars and Cursive, and the headliner Mastodon, this is a weird bill to say the least. Coupled with the fact that this is the first San Francisco show since it was widely publicized that the anti-authoritarian, working man’s indie band that is Against Me! had signed to the monstrous Warner Brothers uber label, this could be a trend-breaking poor reception.
As Cursive dismantles, and AM! sets up camp, the crowd stays strong at the front of the stage, and a tangible excitement culminates. While the stoner rockers are milling around in the Warfield’s expansive entry, some audibly grumble about the odd line-up. Nonetheless, it’s quickly clear that this performance is going to go over like any other. The crowd begins to cheer in anticipation.
A roar welcomes the band to the massive stage, and they kick it off with a roaring, sweating, moshing audience. The band opens appropriately with Even At Our Worst We’re Still Better Than Most (The Roller). A strange bliss fills the room as the entire crowd shrieks along with the chorus: “You know their waiting – to tear us apart!”
It’s overtly clear that the band has specifically requested absolutely no technical lighting, as the house lights are bright white and perfectly still – an homage to the aversion for flashy rock lighting that has been dealt with similarly by bands like Fugazi and Botch. This does a lot to preserve the band’s no-frills credibility. Furthermore, the massive stage actually seems imposing and dwarfing for the major label newbies. Andrew Seward (bass) takes advantage of the expanse around and above him to spit a mist of into the air. The billowing plumes of saliva are mesmerizing under the bright lights—another gentle reminder that AM! is still a punk band.
The crowd goes nuts for “From Her Lips to God’s Ears (The Energizer),” and the sing-along for “Don’t Lose Touch” is tear-inspiringly fierce. They travel the gamut of their discography, playing tracks from all three of their albums, and even throw out a few new numbers for a little sample of what the Warner release is going to offer. As they wrap up, the crowd chants for an encore, but as the headliner is still due to play, this seems inappropriate.
The flawless set unfortunately ends on a painful note. One fan of the audience has been badly injured from being struck by the spiked bracelet of another audience member. As we depart, fire trucks and paramedics are just arriving.
Check out this entire line-up at The Fillmore in Denver Tuesday, May 8—and please be wise about what you wear into the pit. This incident this evening was easily preventable.