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Against Me!

support The Dahmers + True Moon
author PP date 17/06/17 venue Kulturbolaget, Malmö, SWE

It's but a faint memory when Against Me! signed to Sire Records, the scene cried sellout, and they went on to sell a ridiculous amount of records and play much bigger shows. Two albums down from Tom Gabel's gender change into Laura Jance Grace, and we're at Kulturbolaget, Malmö where a disappointingly small crowd awaits the iconic punk rock band. Rough estimate? 200 people at most, making KB feel kinda big and empty for a band of their reverence. Where is everyone tonight, I find myself thinking, at first suspecting it's maybe Sweden Rock this weekend or something? It is Saturday, after all, and the last two records have been pretty good even if the newest one was slightly weaker from "Transgender Dysphoria Blues". Strange.

True Moon

True Moon

Strange is incidentally also what you can label tonight's opening support, who in no way feel like they belong to a punk rock show. So where do we start? Imagine The Cure from the 80s with a high pitched female singer dressed in a strange Wiccan costume on stage, complete with synths and ambiance that's better placed on an 80s pop music video than for Against Me! fans. It's as if a band like Savages decided to switch post-punk out with strange retro pop instead, and attempted to save the expression through an inclusion of guitar reverb similar to what Title Fight used on "Hyperview" a couple of years back. Totally weird and incompatible soundscape, which is only made worse by the fact that only "Sugar" is categorizable as an upbeat track. The rest of their music? Downbeat, energy-draining songs with awful howls that are borderline annoying. And as if that wasn't enough, their stage show is completely static in front of a largely empty venue at this point. Glancing to my left I note an audience member totally focused on her mobile phone with giant headphones on, nodding at about four of five times the speed of True Moon's music. I don't blame her: I wish I could've done the same. What on earth are they doing on this show?

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The Dahmers

The Dahmers

In comparison to True Moon, The Dahmers look and feel like the best band in the fucking world. They sport full-body skeleton costumes, have a blinking Dahmers logo on stage, and floor the pedal from the get-go with a rowdy, punk-fuelled rock'n'roll attitude. We're talking no frills pop punk meets classic punk from the 70s Ramones style, with nonstop, high-energy grooves and infectious tracks that sound great on first listen. "Upbeat as fuck", I jot down in my notes, along words like "catchy" and phrases like "good mood punk rock". With virtually no bullshit, The Dahmers take us on a wild ride of the classic rock out with your cocks out variety. Short, intense bursts of Ramones-inspired classic punk is exactly what we need to wake up from the disastrous opening band just before, with our attention being kept sharp by their energetic front man who takes many a journey to the front part of the stage to show off his guitar moves. Cheesy but in a perfectly hilarious way.

7

Against Me!

KB might be less than half full, but the crowd embarks into a sing along right away with "I Was A Teenage Anarchist", the song that ten years sago had everyone calling the band out for selling out their souls. Is this why they are working in old material straight after? "Walking Is Still Honest" is paired with its album-cousin "Pints Of Guinness Make You Strong", both from debut album "Reinventing Axl Rose". They might not be as scream-laden and anarchistic in terms of delivery these days, but they are still great songs that get the crowd moving. In the classic Against Me! style, which we'll come back to a little later, there are few pauses as the band start plowing through material from primarily the last couple of albums with a few oldies squeezed in between. "333", "Haunting, Haunted, Haunts" and "Unconditional Love" follow, before "New Wave" and "Up The Cuts" once again take us ten years back.

So here I am, listening to old and new tracks and both sound solid, each for different reasons, but nonetheless. So where is everyone? It's not like the songs have gotten worse over the years, as "Cliché Guevara" proves a short while after. The back-chilling "Miami", too, suggests that given enough people at the Arena slot in Roskilde Festival next week, the show could be magical. Or it could flop if people don't show up, like what happened to Enter Shikari some years back. It's not gonna come down to the setlist at least, that's for sure.

On stage, the band were once one of the most energetic ones within the punk rock scene. The songs often felt like they almost began before the prior one ended given the band's hyper-energetic approach, which made their entire presence on stage infectiously catchy. There's still some movement out there, but the overall image is more consistent with Against Me! on autopilot than my memory of them playing with the raw passion and uncompromising style they did ten years ago. The barrage of songs in a row just isn't there in the same way anymore. Don't get me wrong: it's still good and the sing-alongs can be monumental at times. It's also great to see they haven't abandoned tracks like "T.S.R" or "Sink, Florida, Sink", thus giving the oldest fans some material to work with as well. But is it great? Not enough is going on in this scribe's opinion, which is probably a function of lack of people attending because the 25-song setlist surely shouldn't leave anyone cold.

Setlist:

  • 1. I Was A Teenage Anarchist
  • 2. Walking Is Still Honest
  • 3. Pints of Guinness Make You Strong
  • 4. Dead Friend
  • 5. 333
  • 6. Haunting, Haunted, Haunts
  • 7. Unconditional Love
  • 8. New Wave
  • 9. Up the Cuts
  • 10. T.S.R. (This Shit Rules)
  • 11. Cliché Guevara
  • 12. Transgender Dysphoria Blues
  • 13. Dead Rats
  • 14. Rebecca
  • 15. Miami
  • 16. The Ocean
  • 17. Androgynous (The Replacements cover)
  • 18. Bamboo Bones
  • 19. Reinventing Axl Rose
  • 20. Sink, Florida, Sink
  • 21. True Trans Soul Rebel
  • --Encore--
  • 22. The Best Ever Death Metal Band in Denton (The Mountain Goats cover)
  • 23. Americans Abroad
  • 24. Tonight We're Gonna Give It 35%
  • 25. Black Me Out

Photos by: Michael Løgtholt

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