Against Me! – Observatory 2018
with Sharp Shock and Chris Farren – Observatory 2018
Costa Mesa, CA – Monday, May 21, 2018
I was drawn to the Observatory to see Against Me! Originally I planned to see them perform at Punk Rock Bowling in Las Vegas this year, but because of scheduling changes, I wouldn’t be able to cover them at the Golden Nugget (stage area). Thankfully, I was able to cover the show at nearby Costa Mesa, CA. The opening bands were Sharp Shock (who I have seen before and really like) and Chris Farren (a performer that I have never heard of before). As expected, Sharp Shock was great, I really love the energy of this band and I am a fan of both the music and the amazing tattoo talent of Dan Smith. Also, in full disclosure, I’m the guy at a show that pushes his kids at a musician and asks if they can get a picture. To my satisfaction, Sharp/Shock’s (singer/guitar player) Davey Warsop was extremely kind and squeezed in a photo opportunity!
SHARP/SHOCK BAND MEMBERS: Davey Warsop (Guitar/Vocals), Dan Smith (Bass Guitar/Vocals), ? (Drums)
SHARP/SHOCK SET LIST
2. I Don’t Wanna Be a Millionaire
3. Sub Society
5. Away From the Man
6. The Tension
8. Walking a Thin Line
9. Police on My Back (The Clash)
10. Dancing All Night
Chris Farren Was Not What I Expected.
Typically 13 Stitches Magazine mainly covers bands in the Punk Rock genre and Chris wouldn’t touch the fringe of that genre. However, Chris was an entertaining performer and really had a challenge set before him by following Sharp/Shock and leading into Against Me! I had both of my kids with me at the show and between the two of them, my daughter really got a kick out of all the glitter and lights (she texted my wife a picture and exuberantly commented on all the glitter). Both kids loved the balloons and from the looks of it, a lot of the grown ups liked the balloons too! Chris performed his entire show alone while incorporating recorded tracks to accompany him as he sang and played guitar. He had enough personality to bridge the surrounding two acts and he had a great sense of humor. At the end, Chris proclaimed he was finishing up his “Perfect” performance, challenging Against Me! to come out and do the same!
I Was Psyched For The Opportunity To See Against Me!
Ever since I saw they were going to be playing Punk Rock Bowling’s 20th Anniversary in Las Vegas, I really started to look into the band’s story. I’ve been listening to Against Me! casually, but after reading Laura Jane Grace’s book “Tranny: Confessions of Punk Rock’s Most Infamous Anarchist Sellout”, I have to admit that I am much more vested in my listening. I won’t go into the details of everything in the book, but I will mention that it is definitely worth reading and gives an honest glimpse at both the challenge of being in a band that is struggling to be successful while explaining the intricacies of transitioning from the Troubled, Newly Married, Recent Father, Male Lead Singer of a Punk Band to a Female. As you can imagine, there wasn’t much you could have added to the equation to make the story more interesting. Laura Jane Grace was positive, upbeat, and charismatic at the Observatory show. Both of my kids were there and they enjoyed the band all the way to the end (which can be very difficult to achieve as kids tire faster than adults at a Punk Rock show). I loved hearing Laura speak about one of her favorite guitars that was born locally here in Santa Ana – Rickenbacker! Laura sounded great, her voice was perfect. I was happy to see how healthy and strong she appeared to be, considering all the damage she had done during her Punk Rock career! I won’t get a chance to see Against Me! in Vegas, but I will definitely go see them the next chance I get (you should too)!
AGAINST ME! BAND MEMBERS: Laura Jane Grace (Guitar/Lead Vocals), James Bowman (Guitar/Backup Vocals), Inge Johansson (Bass/Backup Vocals), Atom Willard (Drums/Percussion)
AGAINST ME! SET LIST
2. Transgender Dysphoria Blues
3. ProVision L-3
4. From Her Lips to God’s Ears (The Energizer)
6. Pretty Girls (The Mover)
7. New Wave
8. Up The Cuts
10. Jordan’s First Choice
11. Walking Is Still Honest
12. Haunting, Haunted, Haunts
14. T.S.R. (This Shit Rules)
15. White People for Peace
16. Tonight We’re Gonna Give It 35%
17. Dead Friend
18. True Trans Soul Rebel
19. The Ocean
22. I Was a Teenage Anarchist
23. Black Me Out
– John Mairs
13 Stitches Magazine