|My 'Against Me!' experience|
|Written by Jeremy Schultz, Vidette Blogger|
|Wednesday, 16 February 2011 01:51|
I need a fake ID.
Usually when someone sees the phrase ‘fake ID’ it’s generally assumed that this false identification will be used for purchasing alcohol or anything of that matter.
Well my friends, I’m sure I’m not the first one who has come across this issue but I don’t intend on buying alcohol with my fake ID. Instead, I would use for concerts at Castle theatre in downtown Bloomington.
About two weeks ago I went online and purchased my ticket to go see Against Me! with opening acts Fences and Cheap Girls at Castle theatre. The ticket was $15 with an additional $1 added on for who knows what reason. When I heard the band was coming to our fair twin cities I jumped at the offer to go see them live.
Their last two albums, New Wave and White Crosses, were enough to convince me of the band’s worth and it just felt as if the bad would put on a great show. When the day finally arrived to go see this punk band from Gainesville, Florida, needless to say my friend Patrick and I were pumped to go. The doors opened at 7:00 and we gradually worked our way from the cold into the venue.
The familiar process of showing your ID and your printed ticket as you shuffle inside went just as smoothly as it normally does at any other venue. It wasn’t until we got inside to the second pair of ticket-checkers where I was informed that anyone under the age of 21 were not allowed on the main floor but instead were being herded upstairs to the balcony.
Understandably, I was in disbelief. Of all the concerts I’ve been to in my life never once have the 21 year olds and those younger been separated with preference granted to one age group or the other.
As I spent time trying to think about why I was being forced into the balcony twenty feet up and eighty feet away from the stage my only conclusion was that it must have had something to do with the two partitioned bars in the back of the theatre.
I’m not sure if there is a law in Bloomington about minors being in the presence of beer taps at a concert or if it was just Castle who decided to separate those underage but whatever the reason didn’t matter because I was still extremely pissed off.
As I said before, nowhere did it say when I was buying the ticket or anywhere noticeable on the website that as a minor that I would be separated from the concert (upon further review of the website it would now appear that there is a warning stating that for all-ages shows a segregation will be enacted.
I don’t ever recall seeing this warning and think it’s been recently added).
I know I wasn’t the only one confused because every high-schooler that I was with up in the balcony was asking the same question (I’m pretty sure I was the oldest one up there, being only three months away from my 21st).
I managed to get a seat in the center of the balcony before the first act went on. Fences is a band led by Christopher Mansfield, a songwriter from Seattle.
From what I can tell Mansfield runs the show and has a back up band go around with him for tours (if I’m mistaken please let me know). Fences had a great performance playing this chill, cool kind of alternative rock that succeeded in subconsciously getting me to bob my head back and forth as I sulked on my bar stool in the balcony.
The addition of keys in some of the songs was a great little mix up and for whatever reason stood out to me. I made a note to look them up as soon as I could. It was the least I could do for the opening act that led me out of my funk going into the show.
Up next was Cheap Girls from Lansing, Michigan. Reminiscent of Blink-182 and Green Day, their pop punk was enjoyable and had a great beat to it but wore off quickly, perhaps just for my impatience to see the main act take the stage.
The band members seemed straight out of high school and didn’t have an amazing stage presence but did a good enough job to lead me to look them up online. Fellow Sounding Off blogger Tim sent me a link where you can download Cheap Girl’s entire album Find Me a Drink Home for free off of the Quote Unquote website (I’ll highlight this website again in the near future).
Thanks again, Tim! For those of you wanting to check out Cheap Girls or just want a free album, go here.
Against Me! was about to go on. I quickly jotted down notes on my printed off ticket amidst some high-schooler who kept asking everyone who would listen if they thought he could “make it if he jumped,” implying he was considering lowering himself down onto the main floor (I told him there was only one way to find out however it seemed like it was just an empty threat he was spouting as a pick up line to attract friends).
I struck up a conversation with a fellow college student from Miliken University who said she hailed from Green Bay after I mentioned I was from Chicago. That’s when the conversation immediately cut off. Let’s not turn this into a sports blog.
After enduring a pretentious kid behind me remark on the band selling out and ditching many of their hardcore fans for mainstream success, Against Me! took the stage and started things off with three of their older hits, resulting in a powerful first few minutes with everyone on the ground floor getting into it, definitely ditching their hardcore fans (note the sarcasm).
The mass of legal drinking-aged bodies kept up with the fast-paced music they were following beat for beat. Being far back as I was, it was hard to distinguish lyrics from the first few songs because I’m not well versed in the band’s older works.
I’m not sure why, but I half expected Tom Gabel’s extreme vocal work to give way at some point in the show and just give out. That never happened and I’m not sure why I thought it would, but Gabel did an incredible job.
His voice has this harsh and gritty feel to it that sounds just as good live as it does on the album. Belted out versions of High Pressure Low and Don’t Lose Touch instantly became crowd sing-a-longs with the pit down in front. After playing the title tracks of their two latest albums, New Wave and White Crosses, Against Me! continued playing tracks from these two albums and were quickly recognizable.
Incredible renditions of I Was a Teenage Anarchist, The Ocean, White People for Peace, and Americans Abroad followed and were all surprisingly enjoyable for me, despite having a certain dislike for Teenage Anarchist and Americans Abroad.
After a few older songs, I noticed the frequency of concertgoers crowd surfing and getting up on stage. The bouncers would always come by and attempt to shove them off, with little success.
Kids would get up on stage, run over and pat Gabel on the shoulder or whatever they felt like doing in their few seconds in the spotlight, and the return once more to the swarming mass.
More than halfway through the show a kid actually got up on stage and grabbed the mic and attempted to sing.
Of course, no harm was dealt to any of the band members but I wondered why the persistent futility of the bouncers suddenly dropped off as they acted as if it wasn’t a big deal now.
After a kid tried singling along to This Shit Rules on stage with Gabel and failed twice, causing the band to restart the song (it was all good natured from the band members and crowd alike) Against Me! wrapped things up with Bamboo Bones, Thrash Unreal, and Sink, Florida, Sink with everyone belting out the lyrics in their alcohol-induced haze (or sobering reality of youthfulness for those of us upstairs).
Thrash Unreal was incredibly powerful to hear live, with everyone in the crowd singing along with the “ba ba bas” in the song, supplying the kind of chills you can only receive from physically being at a show.
One planned encore later, the show ended and everybody began to disperse into the night. The early evenings disappointment was completely forgotten by the end of the show thanks to every band’s great performance.
After coming home and adding some new albums to my iTunes, I think it’s safe to say that this was a very successful concert.
If you’re over 21 and want to see a show at Castle, go right ahead. Anyone under that age may not be so inclined to spend more than $15 to see a show from high up, however.
If you get the chance to see Fences, Cheap Girls, or Against Me! live, whether down here in Bloomington-Normal or back in your hometown, I say take that chance and be prepared for a great show.