Laura Jane Grace isn’t just a musician. She is an activist an inspiration to those in the trans community. It was clear before setting foot inside Turf Club that this sold-out performance would be a very special show for fans. It’s beautiful to be in a place where those who feel marginalized can feel safe and accepted. The Turf Club played the host to this Sunday night haven.
Grace has fronted punk outfit Against Me! since the late nineties. She’s been through the wringer over the years with backlash from label changes, addiction, and coming out publicly as a trans woman in the rock world. She seems to get stronger with each
Opener Control Top ate the audience alive during the first set of the night. Watch out for them. Seriously. Their fuzzed out brand of post-punk sweltered the room like a fever.
Singer and bassist Ali Carter looked calm and collected one second and like she could kill the next. Her vocals were reminiscent of bands like Hole and Bikini Kill. Al Creedon created a whirring wall of guitar. The rhythm section was filled out with Alex Lichtenauer’s lightning-fast drumming.
Carter ascended into the crowd midway through the set. She screamed and growled as she ran through the audience. She picked her bass back up and ferociously kicked out the rest of their half-hour set. Their album Covert Contracts came out last week and it’s one to check out.
Next on the stage was Mercy Union. They kept the tempo of the evening but brought a grittier and more anthemic dynamic to the forefront. The band is comprised of members of Let Me Run, Gaslight Anthem, and The Scandals.
Mercy Union seemed like they would be equally at home in small clubs or large stadiums. At one point someone had to come out to push the cement block back in place that was meant to keep drummer Benny Horowitz’s drums in place. He had been playing so hard that his kit wouldn’t stay put.
Their debut album The Quarry was released last fall and they’ve gained quite a fan base around the country. There were crowd members who are traveling to see them on multiple tour stops.
Laura Jane Grace and the Devouring Mothers
Laura Jane Grace herself crouched down to tune her guitars before her set as the stage was being changed over. One person gasped as they saw her for the first time and began to tear up.
The band emerged onto the stage – Laura Jane Grace on vocals and guitar, Marc Jacob Hudson on bass, and Atom Willard on drums. They began the set with a song called “The Friendship Song.” It felt unexpected as an opener but it created a sweet bond between Grace and the crowd as they smiled and sang together. The song is about acceptance between best friends who don’t always fit in.
“You’re not like the rest of them
You accept me for who I am
And I don’t judge you for it, and that’s what friendship is”
The show was a lyrical journey through feelings of confusion, loneliness, and angst, but these themes always seemed to be grounded by the search for something greater. No moment was devoid of hope.
They played through a lot of the band’s release Bought To Rot but sprinkled in some Against Me! songs and covers that felt right at home in the power-packed set including The Mountain Goats “Dilaudid” and Camper Van Beethoven’s “Take The Skinheads Bowling”.
Notably for Twin Cities dwellers was a cover of “Androgynous” by local heroes The Replacements. It was almost chilling how raw this version felt. The crowd hung on every word.
Grace spent most of her time on stage in a power stance at the microphone, but she often stepped back to shake her head and drone on guitar while the Devouring Mothers held down the rhythm. “China Beach” and “Born In Black” soared and thrashed while the crowd raised their fists in the air.
The night finished with a solo acoustic Against Me! cover of “True Trans Soul Rebel.” As she exited the stage the crowd was reaching for her hand and she obliged with high fives and appreciative waves to her fans.
Whether it be more Against Me! or more solo work, it was clear that these fans are in it for the long haul. The music means so much to everyone who was there and Grace has created a community where they can gather and support each other.