It’s Wed., Nov. 19, and I’m standing about 15 feet away from Against Me! frontman Tom Gabel as he sets up merch for his show at The Barbary in
The show starts a little after 7 p.m. Emilyn Brodsky opens the show with a combination of ukele and wit. She messes up a lot of chords and belches during songs; I think she’s nervous and/or buzzed. But she does a great cover of The Cure’s “Friday, I’m in Love.” Her sound is warm and slightly folky – think a punker version of Mirah, I suppose – and she keeps her set down to a half hour.
Gabel goes on around 8 p.m. and opens with a song he just wrote a few days ago, “Bob Dylan’s Dream #12 35.” It’s in line with the material from his new EP Heart Burns, which got a lot of play, in that it’s acoustic and doesn’t quite sound like Against Me!. The song’s story arch revolves around Gabel meeting Dylan in a dream and talking to him about everything except his music career. They go to thrift stores, they race toy cars, it’s beautiful. It also makes me very glad I didn’t ask Tom about Sire Records because there is no way this song is not an allegory.
The set is going really well. It starts off with the new songs, but Tom soon starts digging through his library. Sure, we get “Pints of Guinness Make You Strong” and “Sink,
Near the end of the set, fans storm the stage, which I haven’t seen since before Searching For a Former Clarity came out. Gabel is now completely surrounded by excited, slightly sweaty people. He cannot even get back to his guitar case, let alone leave the stage, so he keeps playing. He plays “Tonight We’re Going to Give it 35%,” from the The Disco Before the Breakdown EP, and it’s thoroughly awesome. I’m on stage and everyone is screaming the words back at Gabel. This is a unitive moment. After the hour-long set ends, I’m asked not to bother Tom, which is not unitive and kind of alienating. But for one hour, I “sang along to the songs I never had the courage to write.” I walk back to my car. It’s 9 p.m.