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Thursday, 18 November 2010

Rise Against. AntiFlag. Flobots. Glasgow ABC 1/3/09

Two reviews here. One from myself and the other from my girlfriend KelC.

It’s the usual dreacht Scottish evening.
The rain is being driven in sheets across the windscreen and once again it’s dark far too early.
You would think we would get used to it because this sort of weather is pretty much the norm for most of the year.
I guess in the past I’ve just accepted it and subscribed to the Billy Connolly school of thought that there is no such thing as bad weather.
Just the wrong clothes.
Recently I’ve become tired of the monotonous grey days seeping into dark wet nights though.
Maybe it’s an age thing, but it honestly feels like it’s been a very long time since I felt the heat of the sun soaking into my bones and I could do with some.
For months now I leave home, and then return in the dark and it’s crap.
I may as well live within a stones throw of the north pole.

So because of this it can sometimes be difficult to grab onto a frisson of excitement when you are heading for a night out on the town.
The company is good, the bands should be good, and based on that I should be on a high, but my attitude is actually reflecting the weather.
I’m drawn to the negative and I can’t shake it.
I don’t feel anything about the forthcoming show at all.
When we get into the ABC it’s already very busy.
It’s a sold out show tonight and a very young crowd is in attendance.
I can’t help but think that we are about to see three of the most politically charged bands doing the rounds at the moment and their audience is mainly made up of middle class kids on the cusp of adulthood who think activist is a brand of t-shirt.
The sort who are supported financially by their parents, and the hardest decision the make daily is whether to go for the converse and skinny jeans look or the cargo pants hanging around their arse with vans ensemble.
Obviously there will be some politically sussed young people there who are passionate in their views, but they will be the minority.
A very small minority.

Am I being too hard? Well all I can say is that you had to be there.
There is the argument that it has always been this way and I accept this as a simple truth.
On the one hand we have the minority who steer society ever closer to the rocks while they horde the cash ready to jump ship and leave everyone else sinking, and on the other we have the minority who oppose them.
Meanwhile the vast majority remain silent and distracted by the latest shiny baubles.
It’s the kids that want the shiny baubles that make up the majority of the crowd in my view.
Then again it’s very possible that I’m just old and jaded, and these young people are simply bearing the brunt of my impotent rage at societies ills.
My opinion of the crowd is bolstered in my mind by the price of the merchandise.
The downtrodden poor can’t afford shit shirts at twenty quid a pop, but naïve kids with surplus cash mined from their parents pockets can.
The mark up for a plain tee-shirt with a one colour print would make a CEO of a multinational blush with envy.
Four Past Midnight can sell them at fiver, but Rise Against and AntiFlag who will be demanding a far bigger and therefore cheaper run of prints can’t do it for less than twenty. Go figure.
You expect this from greedy bastards like the big mainstream acts, but not from the self proclaimed bands of the people.
Suffice to say our hands remained in our pockets and no merch was purchased.
I was going to buy a split single for LAMF’s son that is only available on the tour, but it turned out that it wasn’t for sale and you got it for free when you bought a tee shirt.
So no tee shirt meant no single.
Okay. I’m pissed off and the bands haven’t even hit the stage yet.

The Flobots come on and play punky hip hop with a woman on violin to broaden the sound out.
It works well enough, but mid set I’m taken back to the early nineties and reminded of bands that I’ve seen at Glastonbury.
The sort that were always on in wee tents at 2.30 am somewhere.
There’s a bit of a middle of the road rage against the machine sound in there somewhere and it’s all rather agit light for my tastes.
I’d given them a fair crack of the whip prior to seeing them and the songs I’d listened to just didn’t grab me, but I was expecting the live experience to open me up to something that I was missing.
It didn’t.
They’re not a bad band, but they’re not a great band either.
I don’t reckon I’d bother seeing them again.

AntiFlag followed them and it might be about eight years ago or more that I seen them last.
Then they were on fire.
Ready to carry the torch passed on from the Clash, or more exactly Joe Strummer.
I don’t doubt that they are still as genuinely passionate in their views, but unfortunately they come across as more glib and slick now.
I suspect that this is more about the repetition of the message that they are trying to get across.
I’m not sure it’s possible to keep the rhetoric fresh when it getting rolled out on a nightly basis.
I wasn’t impressed with the request from the band for the kids to form a circle pit either.
They promote independent thought, and then fall into the bollocks of getting the crowd to act like sheeple.
Try a shrieking ’I wanna see you motherfuckers form a circle pit maaaaaan’ in an american accent and it could be anyone from Metallica to Bon Jovi on stage.
They were still tight, still entertaining and had a fistfull of excellent tunes to plunder though.
That's the upside, but I'm not sure if it balanced out the corporate rockstar side.
I guess It's saying something when the highlight of the set was their cover of I fought the law.
By this point in their career they should be able to drive the crowd to adulation with something of their own and it says a lot that they have to use a Clash cover to elicit the strongest response of the night.
It was really a game of two halves. The music was good, they performed well and the energy levels was high, but at the same time they engaged with the crowd on a very superficial level and it took a bit of the shine off them.
I’d still go and see them again, but that’s more to do with the AntiFlag of old that I remember rather than the polished version on show here.

Rise Against are cut from the same agit punk cloth as AntiFlag, but steer closer to Bad Religion styled melodic hardcore.
To say I was impressed with their performance would be an understatement. Where AntiFlag appeared glib Rise Against seemed heartfelt. That was the difference. They really attacked it and pushed the levels from the word go.
It was very obvious that this was the band that the crowd were really there to see and they appeared to be out to prove that they deserved the loyalty shown.
Once again I could reference bands like Bad Religion and Pennywise, but most of the crowd wouldn’t have a clue who I meant.
This band are this generations Bad Religion and they do it well.
You might be short changed at the merch stall, but Rise Against covered the cost of the ticket with an outstanding performance.
I’ve got a few of their releases, but never really keyed into them. I’m going to have to revisit them soon and see what I missed out on.
I have to say that I was really glad that they turned it around and delivered an excellent performance, or the whole night would have been a bit of a bust for me.

Cutting it fine as usual.
I just made it up to ElDs for 5.30. For a change I wasn't driving as our friend Mark was.
He’d just as arrived at El Ds house as I drove up so it was a quick pit stop and then we were off to Glasgow to see yet another three bands that were new to me.
When we arrived at Glasgow we parked the car and then the first stop of the night was the Wetherspoons just down the road from the ABC.
ElD was the only one out of the three of us that was drinking alcohol (lucky bugger). Most of the talk before the gig was about work related as the three of us work for the same company.
Two of us, ElD and myself, haven’t been in for a while so there was a lot of catching up to do. None of it was very complimentary. It was more like a bitching session.
As usual time flies in these circumstances and it wasn’t long before we finished off our drinks and headed to the ABC.

It was a pretty small queue out side as I think most of the crowd were already inside. They were giving everyone wristbands to get into some aftershow part that AntiFlag were DJing at. Not that we would be going as we all had other commitments for the morning.
Once inside we made our way over to the merchandise table and had a look at the t-shirts. Then when we seen the prices we each said the same thing 'no chance'.
For bands that sing and go on about political stuff I don’t understand how they could sell there merch at £20 for the t-shirts and £35 for sweatshirts. I liked a couple of them but there was no chance that I was going to pay that for them.
One t-shirt equals a good percentage of my electricity bill for the month. That’s real life.
On to the bands.
First up were the Flobots. When ElD told me who the supporting bands were I had said that I’d never heard of them, but when the Flobots started I actually had heard them before.
I thought they were alright. The rapping was a bit like Linkin Park at some parts, but that’s not to say that the band sounded like them as a whole. El D said he thought they sounded like a bunch of others but I’ll let him tell you about it.
When they were playing they had a fair amount of support from the crowd with about half of them waving their arms in the air.
As I said, they were alright, but they didn’t blow me away like some bands I’ve seen.
Next were Anti Flag.
As soon as they started the crowd went wild.
There was the usual crowd surfing, bouncing about and general mayhem.
As it was the first time I had seen them I thought they were great. They were a man down and playing as a three piece as the guitarist had to return to the states for personal reasons. But you couldn‘t tell that they were lacking in the guitars. Sounded great to me.
I was expecting them to let the music do the talking, but there was a lot of political points put across between the songs and then they got the crowd to join in for a circle pit.
It’s the first time I’ve seen anything like that. Especially on that scale. Hundreds of people running in a circle and falling all over the place.
In front of me was a wee guy trying to trip people up. That was a bit out of order and I mentioned it to ElD. He started watching him and later said that if he had seen him doing it he would have dragged him over to the security as at the speed people were going at that a pile up would have seen some people being seriously injured.
I then seen the guy jumping into it and he got swept away by the force.
I ended up hiding behind El D as the guy standing in front of me had a pint in his hand and I didn’t want to end up wearing it.
Then it was time for Rise Against to hit the stage.
In my own opinion I think they were brilliant. As soon as they hit the first note the crowed erupted again, but this time there were more people going nuts and I was one of them. Jumping about, singing, basically getting into the music, and when looked behind me so were El D and Mark.
Rise Against really know how to work a crowd. Lifting and carrying them along with the music. Taking it down a bit and then getting them going again.
Similar to Anti Flag they didn't just belt out song after song after song, but interacted with the crowd, urging them to support PETA, take an anti racist and sexist stance.
There was a real sense of community and the dedications from Rise Against to the other bands on the bill added to that.
As an encore the singer and guitarist did a couple of acoustic songs before being joined by the rest of the band to fire through another two.
Then it was all over and time to go home with my ears still buzzing.
All I can say now is that it was another great night. Great bands, great music and great company. What more could you ask for?

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