Waterloo Park, Nov. 3 & 4
Reviewed by Audra Schroeder, Fri., Nov. 9, 2007
What is it about bands from Gainesville that make you want to chug a sixer of Coors Light and pump your fist in the air? Florida quartet Against Me! has, of late, gotten a whole lotta Springsteen comparisons, and while they're not quite there yet, they are an American band, with extra emphasis on showmanship. They're essentially doing what the Clash did with folk and punk; the medium is the message, and it's also part of the image. "Political" punk bands aren't what they used to be, but AM's cathartic, feel-good pop-punk isn't nostalgic for some bygone era, and Sunday night they proved it. Latest Butch Vig-produced disc New Wave provided a chunk of the high-energy set, and while Wave suffers from Vig's airtight production, live they were firing on all cylinders, anthemic to the max. The four members looked genuinely excited to be playing, singer/guitarist Tom Gabel sending flecks of spit into the microphone as he led the sing-along through "White People for Peace" and "Thrash Unreal." As Gabel says on album opener "New Wave," "We can be the bands we want to hear," and for one night, they were. Whether they'll be one to define their generation remains to be seen.