Against Me! and Baroness co-headline punk/metal show at Sherman Theater in Stroudsburg on May 30
From a press release:
It was announced today that Florida punk rock band Against Me! and Georgia metal band Baroness will co-headline a North American tour this spring that stops at the Sherman Theater in Stroudsburg on Saturday, May 30.
Special guests Drug Church, a New York hardcore punk band, will open the all-ages show. Doors open at 6:30 p.m., and the concert starts at 7:30 p.m.
To pirate the title of one of their early songs (and still a setlist staple), Against Me! is a band that laughs at danger and breaks all the rules.
Fronted by Laura Jane Grace, AM!’s much-anticipated “Transgender Dysphoria Blues” was released in early 2014. The title of their sixth album offers a direct nod to news that shocked fans and shook up the rock world when it was dropped – Grace, a transitioning transgender person who revealed her story in the May 12, 2012 issue of Rolling Stone, a transition that was chronicled in the journal “My First Year as a Woman” online in Cosmopolitan.
Against Me! began as an anarchist solo act in Gainesville, Florida in 1997. After transforming into a traditional four-piece a few years later with the crucial addition of guitarist James Bowman, they quickly became a driving force in the punk scene despite facing an abundance of unsolicited danger.
While emerging unscathed from two separate road tour spinouts and enduring a flying mic stand which cost Grace her front teeth, Against Me! has played in all 50 states and 29 countries, cranking out an average of 200 sweat-drenched, fist-pumping, shout-a-long live gigs per year over the past decade. Their music runs the gamut, from thrashing to anthemic to intimate, with Grace’s pointed lyrics and powerhouse voice blending vitriol and vulnerability like few other performers.
With a healthy dose of folk and even some old school country in their sound, the band’s first three indie full-lengths (2002’s “Against Me! Is Reinventing Axl Rose,” 2003’s “As the Eternal Cowboy,” and 2005’s “Searching for a Former Clarity”) earned them a rabid and steadily growing following.
Their 2007 major label debut, “New Wave,” was produced by Butch Vig (Nirvana, Garbage, Green Day) and named Album of the Year by Spin magazine. The early-Springsteen-esque raver “Thrash Unreal” reached No. 11 on the Modern Rock charts and, in addition to a headlining tour, the band also supported the Foo Fighters on the road in 2008.
After 2010’s “White Crosses” (which peaked at No. 34 on the Billboard charts), the band parted ways with the label, Sire. It was at this time that Grace went through an intense soul-searching phase and eventually decided to transition, going public with the gender dysphoria she had been dealing with since childhood.
As might be expected with such an intensely personal project, Grace took complete creative control of “Transgender Dysphoria Blues.” She not only assumed producing reins for the first time but even built the Florida studio, Total Treble, where the demos were recorded. Then, more danger struck. During a tornado, a tree crashed through the roof of the studio.
After that mishap, the full record was recorded without further incident at three separate facilities: Dave Grohl’s 606 Studios in Northridge, California; Motor Studios in San Francisco; and Earth Sounds in Valdosta, Georgia.
Which is certainly not to say “Transgender Dysphoria Blues” is a “safe” record. Grace’s soul is brutally laid bare here in this riveting 10-song collection. While four of the tracks directly address the unique anxieties and fears inherent with being transgender, they still crackle with universal resonance.
In 2014, Grace served as Music Director for MTV’s “Rebel Music,” a series of documentary films about youth, music, and global social change, focused on youth protest movements in the most challenging and turbulent parts of the world. Additionally, she is a contributing writer to Noisey, where she writes an advice column titled “Mandatory Happiness” and, alongside the legendary Joan Jett, loaned her support for Miley Cyrus’ Happy Hippie Foundation, a nonprofit whose mission is to rally young people to fight injustice facing homeless youth, LGBT youth, and other vulnerable populations.
Currently joining Grace and Bowman in the band are bassist Andrew Seward, who left in 2013 and returned in 2018, and punk stalwart Atom Willard, a drummer who launched his career as a teenager with Rocket from the Crypt and has had stints with The Offspring, Angels & Airwaves, and Social Distortion. Willard replaced Jay Weinberg, who toured with the band since late 2010.
Against Me!’s latest album, “Shape Shift with Me,” was released on Sept. 16, 2016 on Total Treble Music and Xtra Mile. It features a shift in vocal style on many of its songs, with Grace hailed for a more spoken word-like structure in her singing on songs such as “12:03,” “333,” and “Norse Truth.”
Baroness is a heavy metal band from Savannah, Georgia whose original members grew up together in Lexington, Virginia. They received a Grammy Award nomination for the song “Shock Me” from the 2015 album “Purple” in the Best Metal Performance category. “Purple” saw worldwide praise with Pitchfork, saying it features “some of the biggest, strongest songs Baroness has ever written,” and Mojo proclaimed “Baroness have delivered their masterpiece.” The album received numerous year-end accolades, including “Shock Me” at No. 10 on Entertainment Weekly’s “Top 40 Songs of 2015,” No. 6 on Pitchfork’s “Best Metal Albums of 2015,” and No. 7 on Rolling Stone’s “20 Best Metal Albums of 2015.”
The exploratory metal band – made up of John Baizley (vocals/guitar), Gina Gleason (guitar), Nick Jost (bass), and Sebastian Thomson (drums) – returned last year with their most ambitious work to date, “Gold & Grey.” Release on the band’s own Abraxan Hymns on June 14, 2019, their fifth album spills triumphantly past genre barriers, with anthemic alt-metal hooks ricocheting between the circuitous twists of prog and jazz, the moody swirls of space-rock and noise, and the hypnotic pulses of trip-hop and 20th century minimalism.
“This is the most clear representation of the artistic vision I have for the band that we’ve ever done,” said Baroness vocalist, guitarist, and founder John Baizley. “I’m surprised that we got as far with it as we did.”
Baizley sees the diverse, adventurous album as a “lateral step” from the streamlined, immediate guitar-rock of “Purple,” championed by Rolling Stone, Pitchfork, and LA Weekly as one of the best metal albums of 2015. “Gold & Grey” works like a melodic puzzle, melodies and harmonic ideas borrowed, repurposed, and reinterpreted across three sides of vinyl. The lyrics are full of sonic Easter eggs; unorthodox prog is hidden inside the most accessible songs; tunes emerge from swirling chaos and dense layers of sound. The album is given color by strings, glockenspiel, tubular bells, piano, synthesizers, and even field recordings of the chaos after a transformer blew up outside of the recording studio.
“The term I kept using was that I wanted to create something that was more kaleidoscopic than our former records,” explained Baizley, who embraced the wide lens and limitless journeying of artists like Pink Floyd, Neurosis, Massive Attack, and Scott Walker. “We were trying to say something new with our instruments, with our sound intact, with the spirit of the band intact, but not applying the typical conventions when possible.”
For the first time ever, there’s a spotlight on Baroness’ powerhouse rhythm section – driving-and-spilling drummer Sebastian Thomson (Trans Am, Publicist) and jazz-honed bassist Nick Jost. Bustling with rhythmic complexity, the band occasionally swerves into highways of math rock, post-rock, krautrock, and various strains of electronic music. In addition, the band has absorbed Gina Gleason, a gifted guitarist whose résumé includes playing with Cirque du Soleil in Las Vegas and jamming with both Smashing Pumpkins and Carlos Santana. Gleason’s voice harmonizes with Baizley and Jost, bringing new tone to the band.
“It’s great for me to have such a full-bodied trust in the other musicians in the band because they play at such a high level,” Baizley noted. “I never, ever in a million years thought I’d play with musicians of that caliber, and now I’m surrounded by them.”
Like “Purple,” the band recorded with prismatic, Grammy-winning producer Dave Fridmann (Flaming Lips, MGMT, Mercury Rev) at his Tarbox Studios.
“There were so many split second decisions and just weird ideas that got used,” Baizley said. “I credit Dave for a lot of this because he was never one to say, ‘No, that’s insane.’ It was like almost the more out there the idea, the more likely he was to encourage it to be developed and grown.”
“We went outside, in front of Dave’s studio, on one of his off days, we mic’d up a wooden post and hammered a nail into it,” Baizley recalled. “There’s so much hidden in there. There’s also some audio samples of some of my friends. I literally did the Pink Floyd thing. I set up a little booth in my basement. I said go down there, you got five minutes, tell me the toughest thing you want to tell me. And, boy, it was tough to listen to. I pulled those quotes, effected them, and they popped into one of the tracks.”
Lyrically, “Gold & Grey” plumbs similar depths of emotion. On previous albums, Baizley has sung boldly and openly about his mental health and the recovery process from the traumatic bus accident the band and their crew suffered in 2012.
“Where ‘Purple’ was me lyrically trying to work out how to adjust to a new normal, I think ‘Gold & Grey’ is a more grown-up and more subtle collection of words that reflect how I am trying to deal with the longer term effects of having experienced so many terrible things,” Baizley said. “There’s a mental component. There’s a physical component. I choose to use the band as a place where I can take all of this stress, pain, anxiety, all these realities, and make them something good.”
Nearly 15 years since releasing their first EP, Baroness are finding a way forward by reveling in chaos.
“We’d listen to playback and there was a general sense of confusion,” Baizley said of the “Gold & Grey” sessions. I couldn’t figure out how Gina was making that sound. I didn’t understand how the rhythm that Nick and Sebastian were playing worked with what I was doing – but it did. It was a really exciting to feel like we were maybe on the edge of just falling apart. We didn’t want to know what was going on. We wanted to be always a little bit surprised by ourselves.”
This post was compiled by the staff of NEPA Scene.