by Riaz Charania / Photo by: Michael Silvestre

Sublime, sincere, spirited and self-assured. That’s my immediate description of the Against Me! show, and of them as a band. Sure that heavy use of alliteration is the written equivalent to someone who loves sugar eating something ‘too’ sweet, but there’s no other real around the fact that they are all of those things.

This is not just a show review, but a small a story of a band who went to Halifax and made a big impact on many during their time there.

Now it has been easy to get caught up in all of the coverage of front woman Laura Jane Grace coming out as trans-gender a couple of years ago, and releasing, ‘Transgender Dysphoria Blues’ earlier this year, an album that deals with identity and gender dysphoria. While the coverage of that, and the story itself is undoubtedly important, we shouldn’t forget one thing, Against Me! is an entertaining, MEGA tight and most importantly giving band, and not just when the lights are on. A couple of things took place during their time in Halifax, which I will get to in a bit.

As far as the show itself, I’ll admit that my knowledge of Against Me! outside of what I’d heard over the last couple of years is limited. However, as the show took place, I quickly realized that they are an important group of people to their dedicated listeners, not just an important band.

That importance was clearly on display at their Pop Explosion show, where by the end of it the crowd had shed themselves, leaving their sweat, tears and feelings on the floor. The last time I saw people hang off of every word, movement, chorus and chord change like that was at The Mountain Goats a while back at The Opera House. Something that felt more like a sermon than a show.

For most of my festival experience my review ends when the show ends. With Against Me! that wasn’t the case. I heard stories about what they were up to in Halifax which would make anyone, fan or not, admire them.

The first is that off a 14-year-old girl and her dad who drove hours to see her favourite band. From my understanding they didn’t realize it wasn’t an all ages show. They show up, and unfortunately but understandably weren’t allowed in. It’s pouring outside. Not only has this young fan traveled all this way to fill up a bit of her young bucket list, but was now soaking wet. She started crying. The festival (a big applause to them) worked it out so they could cover her in some more rain appropriate clothing, to keep her as dry and warm as possible.

After the show, Laura was approached and told about the girl. Without hesitation she goes and meets her. The girl’s tears of sadness are now replaced with tears of joy. She was elated, her journey worthwhile.

The second story is of The Youth Project, a non-profit that provides support and services to lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender youth across Nova Scotia. Laura invited them to the band’s sound check, took her time with each of them, posed for pictures and essentially boosted their spirits and made “a lot of dreams come true!” according to The Youth Project’s Facebook page.

Sublime, sincere, spirited and self-assured. Against Me! are the real deal as a band, and as people.