By Chyrisse Tabone, Tampa, Florida
It was an unseasonably cold evening in the Cigar City as the odor of fireplace smoke filled the crisp dry air. A bearded homeless man reached around and tugged at his blanket wrapped around him as I gazed at the line of concert goers wrapped around the building of The Ritz Theater in Ybor city. Rockers, punkers, teens, emos, and all types were either at the Will Call window or waiting with hands in pockets as security guards waved a metal detector over each patron entering the building. The sound of loud punk music was already heard in the distance as I obviously missed the first warm-up band.
I had been waiting with bated breath to finally see Against Me! which essentially amounted to a “homecoming” since the band was founded in Gainesville, Florida, approximately 90 minutes north of Tampa Bay. Against Me! has been on a whirlwind tour since the release of “Transgender Dysphoria Blues” in early 2014. They played at Austin’s SXSW in March and have been on a constant tour, it seems, ever since. The band was recently in Mexico City before kicking off its recent southeastern U.S. tour with supporting bands Creepoids of Philadelphia and Worriers of Brooklyn. They will be heading to Europe for a full-blown tour in April/May, then off to Australia, and back to Germany. Pretty impressive for a band with Florida roots. Not only has the band been busy touring non-stop but front woman Laura Jane Grace launched an AOL series called “True Trans” and an advice column for Noisey.
Got a question for Laura? Maybe you want her advice on life or love or music or sandwiches. Send it here: firstname.lastname@example.org. All questions are confidential and your name will not be included if you’d prefer. Ask away!
The first band I viewed at The Ritz Ybor was Worriers, a melodic punk band founded by Lauren Denitzio and whose line-up is a revolving door of friends from fellow LGBTQ punk bands in New York City. The current band has been touring with Against Me! during its southern U.S. leg and is now heading out west. Worriers is comprised of following: vocals/guitar, Lauren Denitzio (formerly The Measure); bass, Audrey Zee Whitesides (Little Waist, Mal Blum), drums, Mikey Erg (The Ergs), and guitar, Rachel Rubino (Bridge & Tunnel).
Another warm-up band was Creepoid, which had a 90’s Shirley-Mansoneque/Garbage synth sound. The band is comprised of vocals/bass, Anna Troxell; drums/Patrick Troxell; guitar/vocals, Sean Miller; and guitars/Nick Kulp. They are currently heading out west, will be playing at their second SXSW event, later will venture to California, and finally The Great Escape Festival in Brighton, UK.
Finally, Against Me! entered the stage and blasted into “Transgender Dysphoria Blues” from the similar-named album, and continued their way through each song in this phenomenal album. My personal fav is “True Trans Soul Rebel” which drew the crowd a frantic frenzy, arms waving and bodies pumping. I have to say Laura Jane Grace gave 110 percent during the Tampa performance. She thrashed, whipped her hair back and forth, and screamed into the mike with panged emotion and passion. She often peered through her thick wavy locks and sang, making it difficult to see her face during most of the performance. Swedish-born Inge Johansson leapt with guitar in hand while Grace, Johansson, and James Bowman harmonized to the aggressive punk backbeat of Atom Willard. The energy in the room was nearly nuclear and I wondered how this band could perform this show night-after-night. The next day they were slated to perform in Orlando.
I know there has been controversy in past years saying Against Me! “sold out” by using more “emotional or mainstream-type” lyrics instead of “anarchist-themed-punk songs.” All I have to say to this are two words: fuck you. Bands, and of course, band members evolve and grow, and I totally dig and respect the recent direction of Against Me! There are still political-tinged songs but heart-wrenching and soul-bearing lyrics in Transgender Dysphoria Blues really are deep and meaningful, which is fine by me. Keep doin’ what you are doin’, honey, and don’t listen to the them. Haters will be haters, so consider the source.
I truly look forward to see what is on the future horizon for Against Me!
Against Me! Members: Members: Laura Jane Grace – Guitar/Vocals ;James Bowman – Guitar/Vocals; Atom Willard – Drums ;Inge Johansson – Bass
Hometown: Gainesville, FL
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