Tom Gabel of Against Me! is a self-made star with a singular, recognizable songwriting style and a commanding performer by any standard. His rhythm section, on the other hand, seems to be having sudden problems with by-the-numbers punk. It's like watching two different bands at once – as if Joe Strummer were backed by 88 Fingers Louie. Tegan Quinn's guest appearance on "Borne on the FM Waves of the Heart" gave the show a temporary boost, but for the most part, the band dragged and generally played badly. That didn't keep them from bouncing around the stage, mugging and posing as if every note was the best ever played by a rock band. Perhaps they're just making the best of a bad situation, but to see Gabel's relentlessly meaningful music performed with such an emphasis on style over substance is sad.
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