Love and Acceptance: A Punk Rock Show

As everyone knows, I am a huge music fan. I love going to concerts. To me, concerts are like going to church. I get sucked in to the music zone and lose my worldly place and usually get very philosophical and wax poetic on life after them. Very few concerts have been life changing, but the last concert I attended was very life affirming.

On March 25th, I had the pleasure of attending an Against Me! show for the first time in almost ten years. I still remember what I was doing when I found out about Laura. I was on a bus ride home at 11 p.m. and was browsing E! news. They had an article up about how Against Me!’s singer came out as trans and I was stunned. I had always really loved them but had fallen out from listening to them on a regular basis. This was a game changer for the trans community. She is the first mainstream musician to come out and transition. After Laura came out and announced that her new album was going to be based around transgender issues, I waited with bated breath. There are some very early videos of Transgender Dysphoria Blues being played on a solo acoustic tour, so I had an idea of what the sound of the album might be. There were a few stumbling blocks along the way to the actual release of Transgender Dypshoria Blues, including some personnel changes in the Against Me! lineup. When the album dropped in January of this year, I became obsessed. I had never heard my life pressed to wax before. A lot of albums can be openly interpreted to a personal meaning. There was no interpretation needed on this album. It drop kicked me right in the heart. To hear my story of being trans beaming from my stereo, I lost it. I cried the first time through the album. When I found out Against Me! was coming here, I knew I had to go. I had to personally hear these amazing songs live and I was not let down. I met a friend at the show who was out as herself for the very first time — she could not have picked a more appropriate show to do it. There were so many gender diverse people there that I felt so much at home. I think the amazing thing was seeing all of the love Laura got from her older cisgender fans. I know Against Me! has gained a huge trans following since Laura came out, so it was heartening to see older fans stick around. I missed the first opening act, Cheap Girls, as I was still getting ready and waiting for a bus to catch to the venue. I hear they were excellent and I added their music to my itunes and Spotify.

I was so happy I got to see the second act. Laura Stevenson and the Cans were fantastic. Laura has a very dream pop sound to her voice — think Cocteau Twins mixed with a bit of the Cranberries. It gave me shivers. I appreciated that her band had an accordion player! I totally am going to be following her career because I really fell in love with her music. I guess ethereal folk would be a good way to describe the band sound as a whole.

Once Against Me! hit the stage, the room lost it. Laura came out in a white tee shirt that had exposed breasts drawn on it, which I thought that was so fucking rad. I had never seen so many people sing along to songs about being trans and I was floored how many shivers it gave me. I’ve never felt total love from strangers at a concert. Other concerts, I feel like as a fan of a certain band, you and the other fans have a bond over the band you are seeing. This seemed to transcend music love into love love. The set was amazing. It was a great mixture of old and new. I was happy to see that almost the entirety of Transgender Dysphoria Blues was played. It was surreal hearing people sing along to “True Trans Soul Rebel” and shout the word transsexual super fucking loud. One thing about Against Me! shows that I have always appreciated is how vocal the crowd is. I am still a ball of energy from the show. I would recommend anyone who likes punk music or is willing to venture to have their ear drums split open with the sound of awesomeness, to check them out. After the show, I managed to snag a copy of the set list. I have collected set lists from plenty of bands, but this is definitely a prize now. As I was leaving, I got a Facebook message saying that the band usually signs for people after the show. I thought what a cool thing it would be to get my set list autographed. My friend and I waited for about 45 minutes and then I had my Beatles moment. You know all those videos of the girls screaming at them? Although I totally had those feelings as I jumped up and down metaphorically, I kept my outer calm. Atom Willard was shocked that I had seen him drum nine times. It helps that I went to three dates of a Warped tour he played on. James, the other remaining member of Against Me! from the last lineup, was super nice. He and Atom jokingly had a dance off and was offended when I told him Atom won. Inge, the bassplayer, was super shocked I knew who he was. He used to be in a band called The [International] Noise Conspiracy, who I loved. When Laura Jane gave me a hug, I lost it. The bonds of trans sisterhood were shared in that one little gesture. My life is richer because of it.

A picture of Laura Jane Grace (Against Me!) posing with a fan.
Laura and I hug it out!
A picture of an autographed Against Me! set list.
Here is my autographed set list.

I really cannot wait to see them again. They have become a group I must see every time they come around.

By Alyson

Queer Pop Culture Junkie in the Northwest. Addicted to Coffee, Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Fantasy Sports, The Mountain Goats, and Tottenham Hotspur.

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