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Against Me! rollicking, aggressive at Neumos
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Against Me! rollicking, aggressive at Neumos

by Albert Rodriguez - SGN A&E Writer

Against Me!
March 1
Neumos


There were no cases of the Monday blahs this week when Against Me! steamrolled through town with a high-powered performance that was as great as it was potent, sending a sold-out audience home from Neumos with ringing ears and drenched shirts.

The Florida-based punk act opened the 90-minute show with "Because of the Shame," and immediately - like any other Against Me! concert - a raging mosh pit formed just below the stage. In fact, half of the main floor was a swirl of decorative fans crashing into each other throughout the night - from a skinny kid with a blond mohawk to a guy with a refrigerator-sized build to a scrawny girl in nerdy glasses, the pit was a merciless side-attraction to the show itself.

Lead singer Tom Gabel, appearing just the way we like him - hot and sweaty - sang piercing vocals on "Don't Lose Touch" and the title track of 2007's critically-hailed album New Wave. Gabel recalled the previous time Against Me! played at Neumos, telling everyone about how he was rushed to a Seattle hospital right after the show and diagnosed with what appeared to be severe dehydration. Cody Votolato, then a member of The Blood Brothers and now part of Jaguar Love, was at his side during his brief hospital stay.

"Stop!" was tight and anthemic, drawing fists in the air and a couple of T-shirts flinging towards the stage. "Amputations," sometimes performed acoustic, was a cool blend of electric guitars and banging drums, all backed by four vertical strips of light panels. At one point during the show, a female fan hopped onstage and took over the microphone, and did a reasonably good job covering for Gabel, and later a young guy was forced to nose-dive into the audience when he uninvitingly jumped on the platform.

"American Abroad" was another solid effort on Monday night, as the audience literally shouted out the lyrics from wherever they happened to be standing - even those packed onto the one-sided balcony lent their voices to a huge chant-along. "Trash Unreal" closed out the main set, giving everybody a few minutes to catch their breath - primarily the folks huddled in the raucous pit.

A 10-minute encore included a speedy run-through of "White People for Peace," and by this time Neumos was just short of chaotic. The combination of a loud, playful band and a more than energetic crowd resulted in this incredibly fun environment - and given Seattle's very open-minded reputation, a diverse gathering of local fans made this show enjoyable for all types. Even the tattooed hard rockers in this city are Gay-friendly and borderline metrosexual.

Jaguar Love, composed of two former members from The Blood Brothers, performed a fiery 40-minute opening set that was both bizarre and disappointing. Lead vocalist Johnny Whitney owns a screeching voice that's used more to draw attention to himself than to actually fit into a good song - case in point: "Cherry Soda." The trio's cover of Janis Joplin's "Piece of My Heart" was a mess, driving an early group of concert arrivals to shout, "Hurry up!" "Boo!" and "You suck!"

I really, really wanted to like Jaguar Love, because I hung out with guitarist Cody Votolato in the afternoon just before the group's sound check, but on this night I found myself questioning what they were trying to be - they were part electronic, part punk, and came close to pickpocketing the chorus of M.I.A.'s "Fire, Fire." Despite my initial dislike for Jaguar Love, however, I'm giving them a future opportunity to wow me - an interview with Votolato is coming up next week.

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