Written by Waqar Jamil
Oct 01, 2004 at 08:00 PM
Against Me!Never before in Houston have I seen such a kick ass crowd!!! Against Me! brought the punk rock energy and kids of all ages came prepared to scream the night away at the old Houston venue, Fitzgerald’s. With sing alongs, crowd surfing, and circle pits abound, the shameless Floridians rocked the house Andrew W.K. style. Singer Tom Gabel humbly stepped to the side as kids took turns singing in his place. Walking up to the venue, you could hear the audience singing along.At times it was difficult to figure out exactly who the singer in the band was as every member sang along to entire songs. On top of that, kids were everywhere on stage creating a total sing along free for all, as anyone was allowed to step up to the mike and take over vocal duties.

When Gabel would step aside, he would still be screaming the lyrics. The songs took on a life of their own as everyone in the building sang every word as loud as they could. It’s a really great feeling when a band has a great recording and can rock the house live. They even took a minute to sing Happy Birthday to Eric, one of the fans.

As the band tore through an enviable repertoire of memorable songs, such as Sink, Florida, Sink and Pints of Guinness Make You Strong, the energy in this small room was intoxicating. While some bands pull in an audience that may sing along on a few popular songs, Against Me had the audience screaming along non-stop. Not since experiencing an Avail show have I felt this sort of camaraderie between a band and its fans.

Speaking of Avail, Against Me! brought this really goofy dude from Austin down to Houston with them, who would dance along and would play with the kids on stage. He would catch the crowd surfers and carry them around the stage or toss them back into the melee. He reminded me a lot Beau from Avail, but not as urbane. As soon as I learned to ignore him I was having a blast again. Their drummer, Warren, had a huge beard and looked really cool, not quite Amish, but still really cool.

The show was only 6 dollars in advance, and 8 at the door. Hell, you could afford to go, even if you work at a taqueria. It just goes to show that with cheap tickets, you’re guaranteed to draw a killer punk rock crowd in Houston. How do all the rock star bands expect to sell merch when they tickets are so expensive?

Last time Against Me! came we couldn’t get in because all of Anti-Flag’s fans filled up the club and kept many of the fans from seeing Against Me!. Luckily though, even though we couldn’t get into the venue, a few die hard fans called Against Them! covered the entire Is Reinventing Axl Rose album in protest of the fact that they couldn’t afford to get in because the damn tickets were 15 bucks a piece.

This time Against Them! made an appearance but as a tribute to the band they loved than a protest of ticket prices. Covering some older Against Me! material and throwing in some originals, the group did a good job of getting the kids in line into the spirit of the show. Even Gabel made an appearance to sing along.

Luckily though this time Against Me! left all the rock stars behind so they could lower their ticket prices and put on killer show without the lame-factor bands like Anti-Flag bring to the table (No Hot-Topic kids!). Fortunately we could get in this time and there were a lot more die hard fans than last time since the pre-teen “revolutionaries” who love Anti-Flag stayed at home.

I will have to say that although Against Me!’s show slayed the Social Distortion show last week, the set was a bit too short: clocking in at under an hour, many were left wanting more. There was no encore or anything. Some people think encores are lame, but those people should be asked to leave during extra innings and be deprived of cherries on their desserts. Encore! Encore! Encore!

The True NorthOpening up the show was The True North. Having never heard this band before, I was a bit reluctant to sit inside and watch the band, but after hearing the discordant opening of their first song, I was hooked.

A combination of Fugazi’s noise and structure with a more hardcore edge and vocals, The True North blew everyone away. They displayed some amazing energy as they tore through their set in about 30 minutes and left everyone gasping for air afterwards. Their cover of Born Against’s Eulogy got the audience completely worked up before the band brought it home with 3 more originals.

The band also took a great deal of time discussing Eulogy and the time when Krishna moved into the hardcore scene. Explaining how Krishna leaders took advantage of the alienated, disenfranchised kids of the hardcore scene to gain wealth. This set the mood for the song which sort of exposed a bit of the error in the Krishna following and the pain of having a friend taken away by the religion.

It was this time of explanation that set this band apart from a lot of other bands. Taking something they love and laying it out to the audience is a good way to get them to check it out. Having never heard the song before, I took time to download it and read the lyrics. It’s definitely something worth checking out, as is The True North.