The Granada, Lawrence
Sunday, May 18
Hopefully, Laura Jane Grace doesn't think less of Lawrence for the slight turnout for last night's show. The Granada was far less full than I was expecting, especially given the pretty much universally positive response to their latest album, Transgender Dysphoria Blues
. However, all of the KU students moved out the day before, and those left in town were busy getting drunk at graduation house parties.
Thus, it was a small crowd at the Granada when Big Eyes opened the show Sunday night. Big Eyes are one of my favorite bands - and, in full disclosure, I booked them at the Taproom about three years ago to about 15 people. The trio plays pure, punky power-pop, as one would expect from any band named after a Cheap Trick song. They were strong, forthright, and slowly but surely pulled a small crowd down front to tap feet to "Losing Touch," "Half the Time," and "The Sun Still Shines." Their powerful stuff won over a bunch of new converts.
Tony Molina was like a totally punk rock Weezer. Power-pop, but screaming feedback, and power chords enough to fuel a city block. Molina's vocals weren't much but flat declarations of whatever the songs were about, but the songs powered through like a blast of energy. Power chords were the medium of choice, making it seem as if an arena-rock show had invaded the Granada. The guitar tone was pure Thin Lizzy, and every song was a perfectly-crafted nugget of catchy rock 'n' roll. It's a rare act that can grab attention such as this, but holy shit: this is a band to watch.
And how anthemic is Against Me!? Every song was a sing-along, with or without the exhortation of Laura Jane Grace. The audience was locked in from the first note. Against Me! is known for songs that instill fist-pumping and finger-pointing - anthemic songs - and "True Trans Soul Rebel," even being introduced as a song about how coming out as trans made Grace "unfuckable," had a crowd singing along that they'd "take you home tonight." It was an emotional song, as much of the material was.
Tough question: is it empowering that, when Grace made the statement regarding her unfuckability, some guy shouted, "I'd fuck you!" or is it just misogyny in another form? It's like a backhanded form of acceptance, almost: "We accept you as a woman, and now here's me being a sexist dick."
Following up "True Trans" with the back-to-back blast of "Don't Lose Touch" and "I Was A Teenage Anarchist" had the crowd fully in the band's control. Handclaps and fist-pumps, already in full effect, were de rigeuer, and the crowd was fully committed to Against Me! and the show was an affair for the entire house, not just the band on stage. The crowd may have been small, but it was fully a quality over quantity thing - you could see the band on stage responding to the sheer joy of the crowd. It was a cyclical feedback loop, with the more the band gave, the more the audience responded, and just on and on. By show's end, Against Me! and their fans were all sweaty, hoarse-voiced messes, smiling and ecstatic.
Against Me! setlist
Walking Is Still Honest
I Still Love You Julie
True Trans Soul Rebel
Don't Lose Touch
I Was a Teenage Anarchist
Turn Those Clapping Hands into Angry Balled Fists
Pretty Girls (The Mover)
Transgender Dysphoria Blues
Black Me Out
Shivers (Rowland S. Howard cover)
Pints of Guiness Make You Strong
Drinking With the Jocks
We Laugh at Danger (And Break All the Rules)