Against Me!’s live show seems like an experiment — a clever test to see how unrelenting a punk concert can be while still remaining blissful and anthemic. The band, now a decade old, fills its shows with song after song of hammered power chords, Tom Gabel’s shredding vocals and poppy harmonies — leaving hardly a moment for the band, or the audience, to catch its breath.
“It’s non-stop,” Against Me! bassist Andrew Seward says. “You have to give it your all every night or there’s no point in doing it. You have to kill it. It’s mandatory. Mandatory kill.”
Against Me!’s commitment to play loud and hard every night hasn’t wavered, but the band did have a shaky last few months. The group parted ways with its label (Sire), drummer George Rebelo left to go back to his old band (Hot Water Music), and the group was forced to cancel the final months of touring in 2010.
The split with Sire comes after the group’s last album, White Crosses — one that didn’t sell as well as expected. And while Against Me! has a devoted set of fans, it has never been a band that produces singles — and the lead single from White Crosses was about teenage anarchism, for goodness’ sake. Not exactly a topic that resonates with mainstream America.
On a more positive note, a new boon for the band’s live set is the addition of drummer Jay Weinberg, son of Max Weinberg of E Street Band fame.
“He has just a massive amount of energy, which makes all of us go even harder,” Seward says.
Weinberg had been such a fan of Against Me! that when he showed up to practice he already knew most of the songs in the band’s catalog already. This familiarly has allowed the band to expand the live repertoire to include some old favorites.
“I think one of the shining examples is “You Look Like I Need a Drink” off of Eternal Cowboy, which was always super-fun to play,” Seward says. “But it had been a long time since we played it. And now we got it down so it’s gravy. Delicious gravy.”
For Seward’s part, he just wants to get swept away in the live-energy euphoria.
“The golden rule for me is: I don’t think about it. Because the minute you start thinking about it, you’re gonna f--- up. I just make sure not to blaze through it too quick,” he says, pausing. “Well, I guess I do think about it then. Dammit.”
Against Me! plays with Cheap Girls and Fences • Sat, Feb. 5, at 8 pm • Knitting Factory • $13 • All-ages • ticketfly.com • 244-3279