It was 7:46 and the Stone Pony in Asbury Park was still not packed with the first band to promptly begin at 7:30. Things were strange-tickets to see Against Me! were still being sold at the door for $3 AND I was capable of purchasing a beer within five minutes of standing at the back bar. Then at 8:00, there was still no band playing and I did not stand on a line to use the woman’s bathroom.
“Where is everyone?” was the question being muttered beneath the background music by a number of patrons inside the venue. I guess this is what happened when Red Bull and Brooklyn Vegan curate an event? I mean, there weren’t even security guards…I felt like I was at a VFW for a local show.
Well…finally at 8:15 the first band, Big Eyes, approached the stage. The tiny, five-foot-nothing, doppleganger of Abby from Broad City, Kait Eldridge, made her presence known with her punching and riveting yet subtle and entrancing punk rock style. Eldridge and her band brought the energy the crowd was waiting for. She rocked out on her SG while her bassist drove dirty pumping bass lines through each song and her drummer’s snare popped on each beat as if to scream, “look at me, look at me!” Big Eyes had an awesome and easy to listen sound, kind of like Cayetana, Chumped, or Little Big League.
But then after Big Eyes finished up, something unexpected happened. Cakes Da Killa (the gay male version of Azealia Banks) slayed the open stage and took reign over it. Cakes Da Killa, hailing from Englewood, NJ, turnt up the punk rock show at the Stone Pony, morphing it into a dance party. I’m not even sure if anyone in the audience knew what hit them, Cakes Da Killa had us addicted to his vivacious performance and infectious rap. He came prepared with backup dancers and even an entourage that ran about tweeting, snapchatting, instagramming, and facebooking every second. His PR was on point.
Cakes Da Killa climbed over the barricade and into the crowd and everyone was totally into it. If he were to pick any punk show to perform at, this was the one to do it at. The crowd was completely mixed with punk, queers, gays, and everything in between. At one point, I am almost positive I heard him say, “And this kitty so good got the Pope repenting…” and, “Cause my shit come tighter than a drag when she tuck.” Needless to say Cakes had quite the interesting flow, but definitely unique, different, and fun.
It was about to happen. The gender martyr and savior herself, Laura Jane Grace, was seconds away to approaching the stage with her band Against Me! I had been watching their sound guy tune up LJG’s Rickenbackers and acoustics all night waiting for this moment and so had everyone else there. Although I still wasn’t sure if the inside of the Stone Pony had packed out or not, the crowd roared as if there were a huge mass of kids out there.
Coming out, they were dressed in their conventional all-black neutralizing attire, LJG fashioning a mesh jersey that read “GENDER IS OVER IF YOU WANT IT” with her now black-dipped right arm. At the start of their first song, “True Trans Soul Rebel,” the band went nuts. Bassist, Inge Johansson, went wild- scissor kicking and hopping about throughout the entirety of their set.
Everyone knew what was to come next once they heard the start of the snare from the drummer, Andrew Seward. “Pints of Guinness” is the quintessential singalong song for all drunk punks sitting around a fire…at least it is for us. LJG with her hair over her face, she head-banged and sang her guts out.
Right before the next song, “Unconditional Love,” LJG explained, “This next song is about self-actualization, self-realization, self-care, self-love, smoking cigarettes, and drinking whiskey.” She provided a short description and backstory for many of the songs, which I thought was awesome and interesting to hear.
Their set was like divulging yourself into a variety pack of beer. They played older songs off their earlier EP’s like “How Low” and “Walking Is Still Honest” in addition to a bunch of songs off As the Eternal Cowboy like “T.S.R.,” “Cliche Guevara,” and “You Look Like I Need A Drink.” They also played “The Ocean” and “Thrash Unreal” from New Wave. Then “Bamboo Bones“ and “I Was A Teenage Anarchist” from White Crosses.
But they also played a nice selection of Transgender Dysphoria Blues like “True Trans Soul Rebel“ and “Black Me Out.” As an encore, Against Me! came out and played a few more songs, one being a cover of The Replacements’, “Androgynous,” which LJG, Joan Jett, and Miley Cyrus all covered together. They also played an electric version of “Sink Florida, Sink” that sounded amazing. LJG admitted that they’re “going away after this month and making a new record,” which got me and everyone else stoked.
Looking out into the audience, there was a special connection to take notice that occurred between Against Me! and their fans. There was something about the way the queer girl in the front passionately sang each word without releasing eye contact, gripping the barrier with each crowd surfer that soared by. And then how the group of gay boys next to me held on to one another while giving each other that glare of happiness, hope, and excitement at the start of every song. Or even those tatted up, punked out kids that found themselves relating to old and new Against Me! despite the change.
To me, it’s always a privilege to see LJG and Against Me! live because I am witnessing a change in the punk rock community that is opening up to give a voice to those who may not have found acceptance in society. And isn’t that the whole point of the community? I think LJG has was given that voice through the community and is creating a movement to show others that they can find theirs.