Against Me! @ The Rosemount Hotel, Perth, (11/05/11)

A straight-forward, driving punk show this one. No fart jokes, no gay jokes, no drunken rambling; just bands standing and delivering straight down the line.

Grim Fandango are as tight and defined as they have ever been. The hectic amount of touring they’ve done lately showed in a sharp set of Grim hymns. But in its sharpness it was completely blunt. Blunt as in direct and delivered with more punch than slice, more meat-mallet than knife. Twenty or so punters’ ears pricked up on the floor as they delivered Birthmark Blues tracks via epidural.

The Rosey punk mix was spot on as always, allowing Off With Their Heads to seamlessly proceed where Fandango left off. The Minneapolis natives were Dino Jr-like in the way they minced the growing crowd’s hearing with just a guitar, bass and drum kit. Exhausting to watch but sure as hell not breathtaking you pansy.

Frontman guitarist Ryan Young spoke no more than 20 words the whole set, but made up for it with what felt like two albums worth of tracks in 50-minutes. Perth punk punters are a learned bunch and it was no surprise to see enough people up front to carry a crowd surfer. Only just enough people though and he didn’t stay up there long. To confirm their devotion they formed a gravelly chorus during I Am You and Go On Git Now among others.

“Against Me! were the first band that took us on tour and I bet they regret it,” Young claimed in what was 80 per cent of his banter for the set.

Head of major label, Sire Records, Seymour Stein once told this reviewer that Tom Gabel was a superstar. Not sure what he would say now that that Against Me! have given Sire the finger, but his original claim was understandable on Wednesday night. Armed with his frat-boy looks, Colgate smile and a palpable energy about him, Gabel seemed to be doing a lot while not actually doing anything.

He certainly didn’t eject anyone for doing a Nazi salute like he did at the Amplifier in ‘07. In ‘11 there were no Nazi salutes, just a near-capacity Rosemount getting stuck right in. A fight even broke out. If you can call pushing, shoving, name-calling and dirty looks as the ‘fighters’ were separated, a fight.

It’s a shame they couldn’t have captured the White Crosses tracks on record the way they were conveyed in the Rosey. With the glossy studio dynamics chiselled away, a radio-friendly song like Teenage Anarchist even began sounding unsuitable for Nova. Searching For A Former Clarity’s Miami was a predictably welcomed inclusion, the New Wave tracks were solid… and loud. This was partly thanks to new drummer Jay Weinman beating the crap out of his skins. As the son of an E-Street drummer, you wouldn’t expect any less.

It wasn’t an all-time show but it demanded respect and respect it was given.