My dad has a friend named Tom Grace. Tom is a person I wish you could all meet. Tom is happy when you are happy. If you tell Tom you are happy, he will make sure you are happier. Tom’s nephew is the lead singer of the Florida punk band Against Me! Last year they came to town and we all went out to dinner, went backstage, and had a new perspective on a rock show. Thanks Tom.
Since then Against Me! has toured with the Foo Fighters, gone to Europe, down under, played Warped tour, and gained a lot of critical acclaim for their lyrics and meanings behind their anarchist political anthems. The best part about their fame and success as a punk band is that they are all real people.
Tom decided to rent out the basement cigar room of Kell’s for all of us to enjoy. My family, Tom’s family and friends, the kids, the kids friends, the band, etc. We imbibed, ate, laughed, talked, had fun. The band is constantly touring, stuck on a bus, town to town, with the occasional visit from wives and/or family members. They feel at home in Portland. After a few drinks the guys and I were laughing and talking about the World Series when I unintentionally and inappropriately asked if they “had an Uncle Tom in every town.” Fuck that was stupid, but worthy of a good laugh and another shot of Powers. It was a party with kids the age of 10 to adults in their 50s. Good times.
We all walked over to the Roseland for the show and were spoiled by an amazing set from Ted Leo + The Pharmacists. After his set I had to go backstage and tell him how much I loved his fucking music and ask him about one of his pedals. He was a down to earth guy that insisted on giving me his glass of Jameson. Thanks Ted. Being backstage was fun, chatting with the band and giving them shit about the Rays losing to the Phillies. Its nice to see the real side of musicians that we dont normally get to see. The stage call came and I walked up the stairs with them watching their anxiety and anticipation to go out and enjoy the greatest job in the world. We all high-fived and punched it out, and they soon disappeared up the stairs to the stage and rocked out to a venue full of fans screaming, clapping, and singing along to every one of their songs.
It was fun to watch from the sidelines and see these guys enjoy their jobs. They worked hard to get there and it is paying off for them. Talking to Warren (drummer) before the show, he said it has been so surreal to them. They were in Vancouver playing a show with the Foo Fighters, when next thing he knows and sees Tommy (frontman), with Dave Ghrohl on his left and Bruce Springsteen on his right just chatting about music, politics, and life. Tommy is this little guy with sleeve tattoos and an honest smile. He is so caring about his fans and family and transforms himself the moment he grabs his Rickenbacker and belts out those anthems (He’s letting me do a profile piece on him for my Professional Writing class if you want to read more about him).
It was a good night. Lots of trips downstairs to re-up on my cups of Jameson and beer. A farewell from the tour bus and it was off to reality. Of course I stopped by VooDoo Doughnuts on the way home.
Here are my favorite songs from the two. Ive got some more great photos Ill upload. Let me know if Against Me! is in your town and I may be able to pull some strings, or even come visit you and enjoy the show. Broken Chairs.