Laura Jane Grace and the Devouring Mothers at Venue, 3/27/19
“I’m not sure what I look forward to anymore” sang Against Me! frontwoman Laura Jane Grace as she opened her set with “Manic Depression.” In the eyes of the adoring fans lining the front few rows of Venue, this was what they had been looking forward to since the tour was announced back in November of last year.
In support of her latest release, and first ever full-length solo album of original songs, Bought to Rot, Laura Jane Grace was back in Vancouver on Wednesday night. Grace had not performed in the city since September 2017 when she packed out The Vogue Theatre on tour with Against Me! This time she returned to a noble turn-out at Venue as a solo act complete with band The Devouring Mothers in tow.
Having fronted Against Me! for over 20 years, in 2018 there was talk that Grace was working on a potential follow up to Against Me!’s 2016 record Shape Shift With Me. However, as time went by this eventually evolved into the release of Bought to Rot, and the highly anticipated eighth Against Me! studio record was put on hold.
This new record and tour, which Grace explained to a transfixed crowd on Wednesday night was the brainchild of a two-week tour that her, along with her band The Devouring Mothers, trialled across the U.S. last year. The short stint was a success and they began booking a full tour across North America and released the record in early November. Wednesday’s Vancouver date marked their first show together on Canadian soil.
Bought to Rot takes on a slightly different sound than Against Me!, however Grace injects her energy and passion into each of the songs in such a way that even the die-hard Against Me! fans seem to appreciate. Grace touched on the fact that they had released a record at the end of last year before announcing to an amused audience, “we’re gonna play the whole thing, because we don’t have many songs!”
Mid-set Laura Jane Grace stopped to introduce her band, which also features Atom Willard of Against Me! on drums, before joking that they’ll play a few Against Me! songs during the evening “but only the really bad ones.”
“Ache with Me” off 2010’s White Crosses was the first Against Me! song of the night, but not before Grace amusingly shut down hecklers shouting requests for “Sink Florida Sink” with comments about how they must be really into global warming.
The initially sleepy crowd appeared to wake up during “The Airplane Song” and the amusingly anecdotal song “I Hate Chicago,” a tongue-in-cheek track about her hatred for the city that subtly serves as a metaphor for her divorce. Laura Jane Grace also treated the crowd to a cover of the Replacements song “Androgynous,” which is a staple track in most of her sets these days. In fact she performed this with Against Me! the last time they played in the city.
At the end of the night, after fulfilling her promise and playing every single track on Bought to Rot, Grace took to the stage for a five-song encore closing the evening with three Against Me! songs. Sing-a-long favourite “Cavalier Eternal” was a hit with eager Against Me! fans before the band left the stage leaving Grace to perform “True Trans Soul Rebel” as a stripped down solo performance.
As she left the stage, Grace shook hands and fist bumped a few adoring fans in the front rows before they flocked to the merch table hoping to get the chance to meet her. As a solo act Laura Jane Grace may not pull the same turn-out that an Against Me! show can generate. However, playing to a smaller crowd allowed fans the treat of a more intimate performance … even if she didn’t play “Sink Florida Sink” on request!