AGAINST ME! at Yonge-Dundas Square, Friday, June 27. Rating: NNNN
Against Me!'s ability to turn casual observers into legitimate fans was evident on Friday night in the large crowd that gathered for the band's first Toronto show since the release of their latest album, Transgender Dysphoria Blues. Helmed by Laura Jane Grace, the Florida-bred four-piece blistered through their gut-wrenchingly honest brand of punk rock for the length of their punchy, one-hour set.
The band found their groove early on with a rousing rendition of 2002's Walking Is Still Honest, but the crowd responded better for tracks off the new album, like Black Me Out.
Yonge-Dundas Square definitely wasn't the intimate setting Against Me! is used to, and at times poor sound prohibited much of the crowd from hearing the frontwoman's between-song commentary. Also, the large gap between the band and the crowd put a wrench in their trademark intimacy. But Grace eventually responded to the frantic fans up front by diving into the crowd during We Laugh At Danger (And Break All The Rules).
There weren't as many surprises and deep cuts as their near-legendary 2007 outing at the Phoenix, but few were complaining. Transgender Dysphoria Blues tells the very personal story of Grace coming out as trans, but the joy she showed during album standout Unconditional Love spoke to everyone there, unifying a crowd that was as diverse as they come.