Published Aug 23, 2011Peterborough, ON-based Birthday Boys started the night off with their blend of classic rock and '50s R&B aesthetics. They did their best to warm up an ever-growing crowd at Toronto's Mod Club, but drawn-out solos, glam rock drumming and mini-jams didn't translate well with the crowd. This was followed by Saint Alvia (formerly Saint Alvia Cartel) giving the audience a warning: the band would be performing mostly tracks from their yet-to-be-released new LP. But after a few songs, their clever mix of pop with punk, often with a reggae influence, allowed the crowd to start dancing and sing along, even if they didn't yet know the tracks.
An immense sense of anticipation began to build before Against Me! took the stage, with audience members even crowd surfing to the house music. Once the band appeared, they got their release, as the group opening with "Pints of Guinness Make You Strong" proved to be a great idea. The audience was ecstatic from the moment the set started to its dramatic end an hour and a half later.
Having toured 2010's White Crosses for some time now, Against Me! took time early on to show the crowd they would be playing some of their back catalogue, as the first five songs covered a track from each of their five LPs. Frontman Tom Gabel's dedication to "less talk, more rock" was always evident, with the band blistering through a 15-plus song set of crowd-pleasers. Singles from the group's last few albums received the biggest adoration and cheers, but it was deep cuts like "Searching for a Former Clarity" and "Cliche Guevara" that roused true venue-wide sing-alongs.
What was once a dividing issue should now be put to rest: Against Me! may not be the same band that they were when they released Reinventing Axl Rose, but they can still perform the songs with the same passion. The small parts of their performance, like treating the crowd to "Janie Jones" by the Clash and closing with "We Laugh at Danger," made it evident that Against Me! are having fun while working for and respecting their fans, all in all remaining as earnest as ever.