Against Me! charge Boston with stellar set

A review of Against Me! at the Wilbur Theatre on October 12

, Editor-in-Chief

How many times have we heard punk rock is dead? Armed with the best album of 2007, Against Me! arrived in Boston on Sunday night and delivered a show that assured punk rock is alive and well these days. No, they are not the Ramones or the Clash, but the Florida foursome is the best new punk band we have seen in the past decade.

The Wilbur Theatre stage was a basic as they come, not even a banner with the band’s name was unfurled, but the band and the crowd fed off each other with soaring levels of organic energy as the set of raucous punk anthems progressed. Each clad in all black, Against Me! got the amplifiers cranking early with opener, "Cliche Guevara". It flowed perfectly into "New Wave," a song in which they declare, "We can be the bands we want to hear / We can define our own generation /Is there anybody on the receiving end? Are you ready to brave new directions." The band charged on with more tunes off 2007’s New Wave, including the rocking "White People For Peace" and "Stop!", which had the crowd clapping over the heads in thunderous unison.
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As great as New Wave is, some of the band’s most hardcore fans accused the band of selling out with the album’s more polished sound. If there was still any hostility amongst their fanbase, it was not evident on Sunday. The band, who have been limited to shorter sets in this area (opening for Foo Fighters and this summer’s Warped Tour), took full advantage of their headling status with a 70-minute set that touched all facets of their catalog. The crazed crowd passionately sang along to new and old songs alike, though it was the older material that surprisingly seemed to rile up the crowd more. Older tunes such as "Pints of Guiness Make You Strong (2002’s Reinventing Axl Rose), "T.S.R." (2003’s As The Eternal Cowboy), and "Miami" (2005’s Searching For A Former Clarity) all were fervently welcomed by the all ages crowd.
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Frontman Tom Gabel avoided any type of stage banter, putting aside political rants and presidential endorsements (perhaps he realized he was in the liberal hub) and instead let the music do the talking. Of course, there were plenty of politically charged anthems for the crowd to find out where he and his bandmates truly stand. From "From Her Lips To God’s Ears", a sarcastic ode to Condolleeza Rice and President Bush, to his solo acoustic rendition of "Cowards Sing At Night", a new anti-McCain song that is expected to be included on his forthcoming solo release.
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If there was one song that did not live up to the album’s take, it was clearly "Borne on the FM Waves of the Heart". The summer love song is defined by the sweet vocals of Tegan Quinn and as much as guitarist James Bowman tried to replicate Quinn (one half of Tegan and Sara), the song just fell too flat. The main set closed on a high thanks to "Thrash (Unreal)", as the soaring anthem was a masterpiece. After Gabel began the encore with his solo effort, the band joined him for a brisk three song encore of: "Sink, Florida, Sink", "The Disco Before The Breakdown", and& "We Laugh At Danger (And Break All The Rules)".
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Ted Leo and the Pharmacists provided a great supporting set. Leo was admittedly suffering from rough vocals but managed to shred his way through an energetic set that was well received by the Boston crowd. He attacked with his axe, delivering distortion filled and effects laden tunes like "Who Do You Love?" and "Heart Problems". Leo also went the political route by delivering a couple of tunes – "Mourning in America" and "Paranoia" – off their new digital EP, Rapid Response. The EP is a response to the violence at the 2008 Republican National Convention in Minnesota and is available on the band’s label website (Touch and Go) for a choice of prices with all proceeds going to Democracy Now! and Food Not Bombs of St. Paul.
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Opening the show were Future of the Left, a up-and-coming trio from Wales.

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