Against Me! – Rage, with love

The last act on Ilosaarirock’s Sue Stage was Against Me!, one of the biggest names in American punk rock at the moment.

The band stormed through their set, earning a fair share of singalong and fists in the air from the crowd. Especially old classic Pints Of Guinness Make You Strong and newer songs Miami (“FUCKING MIAMI!”) and fiercely catchy hit single Thrash Unreal really made the crowd go wild. Yours truly was in the front row, and I have to say I also gave it my all; I almost fell over the fence and smashed my camera from being thrown around.

So I have to admit, for me this was the band I had been most anxious to see on the whole festival. Besides them being an old favourite of mine, I was also curious to see how the band has changed after singer Laura Jane Grace (formerly known as Tom Gabel) came out as transgender and began her transitioning process. If there’s change, it is change for better: every now and then in-between songs Laura flashed a wide smile. She seems more confident than ever, and really, what Laura is doing is a great example of being true to yourself and not giving a shit about what others say. And for the haters, she sings the lyrics of Black Me Out: “I want to piss on the walls of your house”. Haters gonna hate, so what!

A more sensitive side of Against Me! (yeah there is one!) was seen in the beautiful The Ocean. Anyone who has kept a painful secret can relate to the lyrics. The band also played a new song called Transgender Dysphoria Blues, which might be a part of their next album with the same name. The song deals with others’ reactions towards transgendered people and in contrast to The Ocean, this one is a rightfully aggressive punk song. A perfect ending to the song was drummer Jay Weinberg generously giving everyone both middle fingers.

After the band finished their set, I left feeling sweaty and light, like you should feel after blowing off some steam at a good punk show. I observed the people around me, and it seemed Laura’s smile had rubbed off on the rest of us too.

Text: Maria Sandell
Photos:  Risto Kuittinen, Mika Lehtola

Aihe(et): In English.