I walked into what I thought was a packed room, but the crowd that I saw turned out to be a bunch of people waiting in line for band merch. The crowd was rather minuscule for The Dirty Nil set, so those who showed up later missed a fuckin’ butt-kickin’ performance by these guys. Oh, well—sucks to be them! Those who were polite enough to arrive on time were definitely feeling the power, and it showed in their response to the music.
Not a minute past the scheduled time of 8:00pm, The Dirty Nil frontman Luke Bentham and bass player Ross Miller literally jumped right into a very crowd-engaging introduction; a show opening synchronized jump that was backed up by drummer Kyle Fisher smashing cymbals. Kicking off with “No Weaknesses,” this three-piece started off what would be an incredible evening of high-energy, great sound, and a wild crowd! As Miller skipped around on stage, almost never taking a break from twisting, jumping, and, at times, creepily staring into the crowd, Bentham sung his heart out beautifully and ripped dirty guitar solos, all while blowing bubbles and getting Hubba Bubba gum all over his face. These guys were engaging, tight, and clearly happy to be there. Some may say they were like if Weezer didn’t suck.
Bleached definitely had their work cut out for them after The Dirty Nil’s set, but they were able to keep up. They didn’t give much of an initial introduction, but they didn’t need to. Their attitudes and presence were impressive enough, giving the crowd a pretty good idea as to what their sassy selves were all about. Their latest EP Can You Deal came out this past spring with solid tracks including “Flipside” and “Turn to Rage,” which allowed this band to have a sweet repertoire to unleash onto a crowd that kept getting bigger and more amped. Drummer Nick Pillot tore it up as lead guitarist Jessica Clavin and her sister Jennifer projected sweet, sweet music both vocally and instrumentally into the air. These punk rock n’ rollers were refreshing to watch and listen to. They had this presence and image on stage that was sweet, kind, and rotten. They loved us; we loved them.
Busting out onto the stage during the intro to “True Trans Soul Rebel,” Against Me! threw fuel onto the fire. The back curtain dropped, exposing the dripping lips logo and the crowd went wild, almost immediately igniting into moshpits and crowd-surfing. Following with “Teenage Anarchist,” these outspoken, anti-establishment rockers consecutively belted out song after song before finally taking a break around the fifth track intro their set to needlessly introduce themselves. Frontwoman Laura Jane Grace engaged the audience with a few words on personal matters and choices and then the hit songs kept coming. And the audience kept storming the stage.
They were literally climbing on the stage and diving off à volonté without any fight from the band or bouncers. Unless, however, you over-stayed your welcome or touched a microphone, then bouncers had no hesitation to give the ol’ boot. After major hits including “Unconditional Love,” “Black Me Out,” and a cover of the late legend Tom Petty‘s “Runnin’ Down A Dream,” it was finally time for the big one, “Thrash Unreal.” I first heard this song when performed by Montreal artist Jeff Poirier and his former band. In retrospect, they did a great job, but obviously, its unleashing on Saturday night was magical. The magic wasn’t over after this, however. Upon returning after a super short encore chant and break, Against Me! preceded to pump out six more tracks, amounting to a grand total of twenty-eight songs, the twenty-eighth being “We Laugh At Danger (And Break All The Rules).”
Written by Keenan Kerr
Photography by Stacy Basque
*edited by Danielle Kenedy