Published Jul 12, 2015A good punk show is always fun and usually sweaty, and Against Me! delivered that and more to the Garrick Centre as they kicked off their Western Canadian run in Winnipeg on Saturday night (July 11). Front woman Laura Jane Grace still adheres to her less-talk-more-rock policy and knows how to whip a crowd into a frenzy. (She also doesn't miss a beat when she almost gets hit in the face by her mic because of a crowd surfer.)
At this point in their decade-plus career, Against Me! could stick to playing older tunes, but instead the band kept things current. Throughout the night they played eight of 2014's Transgender Dysphoria Blues' ten songs, with "Paralytic States" and "Drinking With the Jocks" being the only ones not to make the cut. The band also played a decent chunk from White Crosses, some of which was arranged for a different feel; only part of "Spanish Moss" was performed, and Grace strummed an acoustic guitar during "Bamboo Bones" instead of using her electric.
Of course the band still played old hits such as "Cliché Guevara" and "Pints of Guinness Make You Strong." They even tossed in "T.S.R. (This Shit Rules,)" but the older stuff wasn't the focus — they demonstrated that they're just as relevant as ever by peppering a mostly recent set list with older songs that showed they haven't lost touch with their roots, and it was impressive. They also proved themselves more than capable of packing a crowd into the Garrick Centre after doing themselves a disservice with the smaller West End Cultural last year.
For long-time fans, it may have been disappointing that they didn't play anything off of Searching for a Former Clarity, which came out 10 years ago and was probably the superior Fat Wreck Chords release, but the band seemed to have the most fun with the tunes from Transgender Dysphoria Blues, and the crowd seemed to as well. One of the coolest parts of the night was hearing the opening lines of "Black Me Out" being shouted so loud that Grace was pretty much drowned out and smiling the entire time.
The opening acts weren't necessarily ones you'd expect to open for Against Me!, but it's probably good that the band is trying to shake things up in other ways too. There were definitely some My Chemical Romance fans in the crowd, and they gave Frank Iero a warm welcome when he hit the stage with his copy-editing nightmare of a band frnkiero andthe cellabration. The group is chaotic and a little heavy, lacking any real melody and mostly led by Iero's inaudible yelps. Last year, the group released Stomachaches so the band ploughed through tunes off that record such as "Joyriding" and "Stitches." Probably the most impressive thing was that Iero continued to wear a hoodie even though it had to be about 35 degrees with 90% humidity inside the venue.
Kicking off the night was Annie Girl & The Flight, a self-described dream rock band from San Francisco that sort of sounds like a mix between Metric and the Cure. The quartet sounded alright, but mostly just stood there and really weren't that interesting to watch. A little more action might have made the songs they played off their latest EP, Bodies, a little bit more captivating.