The Old Grey Gristle Test

What were you doing on Saturday night there? Any sensible 47 year old with the immune system of a wet paper bag like me should be cosied up at home with a wee bottle of vino and a box set. But no – instead having read a Buzzfeed article back in September about a beautifuly brave young woman called Laura (  you then seek out the music of her band, found out that they are playing in your town in 2 months and bought a ticket, even though you know you will probably be the oldest gal there (which I pretty much was – one dear soul in the queue thought I was chaperoning the bouncy group of young women ahead of me!) and then you go. On your own.

My almost-eighteen year old daughter (who has been to more gigs in her young life than I have been in my longer one – but I am catching up!) advised me to go early to make sure I got a good view, I turned up at The Garage 105 minutes before the doors opened to find myself with only 5 other very friendly and sweet young women there (one of whom complimented me on my “Women For Indepedence” badge). Slowly other people rocked up and although there was some confusion over which side to queue on, we waited patiently. Fortunately it was dry and not too cold for November and I chatted to a very lovely couple from Bridge of Allen. At 7pm the doors opened and we were in. I hurried up the stairs and nabbed my space at the barrier, just to the left of centrestage. I didn’t move for the next 3 hours.

First on at 7.30 on the dot was the wonderful Billy Pettinger aka Billy the Kid, a singer/ songwriter from Canada. Billy and I had been chatting messaging on Twitter as she had previously put out a request for a couch to crash on (and as I was reading Amanda Palmer’s excellent book “The Art Of Asking” at the time, I offered but since the band then offered her a space on their tour bus it wasn’t needed) so I was keen to see and hear her. She did not disappoint – it was just her and her big guitar on that stage but she owned it. I had a wee tear in my eye as she sang “This Sure As Hell Ain’t Me” and loved her cover of “16 Tons”. All too soon she was finished. A bugbear of mine at gigs is when folks have obviously come to see the main draw but don’t give the support a proper listen. Two guys behind me chatted loudly all the way through Billy’s set and it took a lot not to turn round and tell them to shut the fuck up, but I didn’t!


The tech came on to set up for Against Me! As I am the lover of someone who works in events crew and setting up gigs, I watched with geeky interest and yes, building excitement.

At 8.30, Against Me! took to the stage and the previoulsy spread out crowd surged forward. Fortunately I had my quilted jacket draped over the barrier in front of me otherwise I would have had it imprinted on me! I am a big lass and I pushed back somewhat and really felt for some of the smaller and slighter women next to me. I almost turned round to the guy behind me and suggested that he should maybe buy me dinner first, he was so close – but hey ho, the fun of the mosh-pit. I was delighted that the first song was “FuckMyLife666” which I love and was rocking my wee decrepit body to that. Then straight into “Pints of Guinness Make You Strong” and “Cliche Guevera”, 2 of the many songs I am not so familiar with yet. A couple more again that I don’t know so well yet before “I Was A Teenage Anarchist” which I DO know and got right into, followed by “Black Me Out” which I love for its lyric “I want to piss on the walls of your house” – how many people have you ever wanted to yell that at? (No? Just me then?) Another couple of great but new-to-me songs then a superb “Transgender Dysphoria Blues”, another two I must get to love and then “True Trans Soul Rebel” which had the whole place shaking. Another song I didn’t know then the lovely Billy Pettinger came on to do a duet with Laura on “Borne On The FM Waves Of The Heart” which was just superb, both women rocking it out and Billy crowdsurfing.


There isn’t much chat during the songs (they played 21 in total!) and what there was was to me inaudible, sadly due to sound mixing I guess, which was a shame as Laura was speaking and I would have liked to have heard her. But she did come down into the crowd and yes, I will never wash my right hand again as she grabbed it and gave it a mighty squeeze. Jings, does that woman work for her money – I gave her a friendly pat on the back and she was wringing!

Two more songs and they were off. Lots of shouting from the crowd of “One more tune, one more tune” which the feisty blonde lass next  to me and I turned into “Loads more tunes” and we bantered good naturedly about what they should encore with – I told her I’d be happy to hear them sing anything,including fucking “Merry Christmas”. Of course they did return and bashed out 3 more songs, ending with “We Laugh At Danger (And Break All The Rules), which pretty much summed up the show and the experience! Guitar picks, drumsticks and setlists were tossed into the crowd, all passing me by. However, being a polite soul, I called out to the tech guy as he cleared up to thank him for his efforts (always thank the tech – there’s no show without them) and he picked up a pick and threw it in my direction, where it landed right in my cleavage. That fella’s done that before, methinks!

I asked the security woman where the merch stall was as I had promised to pop down and say hi to Billy (I also thanked her – keep on good terms with all crew) so headed downstairs. I had a wee brief chat with Billy and bought her latest CD, which she was kind enough to sign for me. I knew I had no chance of seeing any of the band, so tired, dehydrated and happy, I left.

Obviously, Laura Jane Grace, the frontwoman, was the main focus. Not as tall as I had expected, still she bestrode the stage of the Garage like Boudicca reborn, her beautiful long locks often hiding her equally beautiful face like a waterfall. It would be lazy to compare her with other women singers but to me she had all the energy and fire of Janis Joplin while still being someone all of her own making, in a class all of her very own.

Against Me! are a four-piece band and it would be remiss not to mention the uber cool guitarist (does that man sweat?) and to me, rock and anchor of the band, James Bowman; the amazing energetic percussion of drummer Atom Willard and the magnificent firecracker of a bass player that is Inge Johansson, whose smiling face and acrobatic playing opposite me will stay with me for a long time, along with his plectrum which I treasure. Thank you all – you were just spectacular.

Against Me! and Billy the Kid, The Garage Glasgow Saturday November 15th 2014.

Set list with thanks to

Photos by me.


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