Dear Against Me!
I fucking love you.
You were one of the first punk bands I ever listened to.
I must confess that I can’t remember how I started, and I have an awful memory for dates.
But I’m sure it would have been when I had just about turned thirteen, so at the earliest 2007. That strikes me as probably the right time because you had released your fourth studio album, New Wave, that year and I remember listening to one of the singles, Thrash Unreal, on repeat for, at the very least, days at one point. And then I started to look back at your old work, and that’s really when I fell head over heels in love.
Your first three albums were world shattering to me. They had it all. Thundering choruses, tales of tattered relationships, rousing anthems, introspective songs about personal struggles, they were pretty much perfect. Those songs also gave me a real bizarre sense of belonging. I was a dumb kid from England who had a vastly different life to you, wild punks from the Florida sun, but when I listened to those songs it made me feel like I was a part of something.
And so Against Me! became an almost permanent part of my life for years.
But this love affair hasn’t always been plain sailing. I can’t remember when, but at some point in my late teens your songs featured in less and less of my playlists or CDs. I found myself listening to your albums on repeat less and less. I just had less and less time for you, until I had no time at all. I was off exploring further into punk and modern folk music and I’m ashamed to say I left you by the wayside to chase those newer, seemingly, shinier things.
But I did come back. Slowly at first, after accidently standing on my copy of Against Me! Are Reinventing Axl Rose and deciding to get a new copy and give it a listen. In no time at all I was back to screaming along with songs that I thought I had long since forgotten the lyrics to, but there still felt to be something missing, something I couldn’t put my finger on.
A short while after I started listening to your music again Laura came out. A little further down the line you released Transgender Dysphoria Blues, an album that dealt with the gender dysphoria that Laura felt during her life. It dealt with this topic in typical Against Me! fashion, full of brutal honesty, ear shredding guitar riffs, scathing politically personal lyrics, and an earnest acoustic number. Your hooks burrowed their way deeper in to me after my first listen.
But it was seeing you live during the Transgender Dysphoria Blues tour that really rekindled my love for you in explosive fashion. The atmosphere around the venue was loud and animated well before the show started, and when you stepped on stage the roar from the crowd basically blew the roof off the place. You tore through the set list at breakneck pace, perfectly blending the old classics with the new battle cries from TDB. The air was practically electrified, and the crowd was bouncing off the fucking walls. It was the closest thing I’ve ever had to a religious experience.
As I left the gig, sweaty, bruised, and with a newly twisted knee, I couldn’t believe that I’d ever chosen to leave this behind. I was madly in love again and it’s a love that hasn’t faltered since, and I don’t think it ever will.
So I’ll say it again, I fucking love you Against Me!