Article and Photos by: Matt Guevara
Through her struggle with gender dysphoria, and eventual transition, Laura Jane Grace of Against Me! became one of the first major artists to publicly come out as transgender, and has encouraged the growth of one of the most accepting and tight-knit fandoms in punk rock. This, the emotions, and the journey that came with it are displayed no better than in Against Me!’s new album, Shape Shift With Me.
Touring the US after the release of their new record along with Frameworks and Potty Mouth, among the first to hear the new jams live was the crowd at Flywheel in Easthampton MA; A venue known best for its support of forward-thinking artists, especially in the punk scene. As an added bonus the small venue is also a great alternative to the live music monopoly in the area, which smaller artists often struggle with.
Opening the show was Frameworks from Gainesville, Florida. Bringing a roudier vibe to the table, Frameworks draws a crowd reminiscent of Against Me!’s early days. Like any great hardcore band, their set wasn’t complete without their vocalist joining the crowd for some intense, thrash rock goodness.
Next up, local favorite Potty Mouth from Northampton. For as much as I had heard about their shows and enjoyed their music, this was actually my first time seeing them live and now I really know what I was missing. This all girl pop rock trio formed in 2011, and has released 3 fantastic albums(give or take), with their most recent in summer of 2015.
As the suspense built between sets, die hard fans began to push towards the front, and by the time Against Me! went on the anticipation was so thick you could cut it with a knife. Their new music focuses largely on the struggles of transitioning, and you can feel it even more live, especially in such an open and encouraging space. If you have the opportunity, you won’t find a show or a crowd like Against Me!’s anywhere else.