Show Review: Dropkick Murphys, Against Me!, Off With Their Heads at the Pageant, Saturday, March 5

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Todd Owyoung
It may have been Mardi Gras in Soulard, but Saturday night in University City, you would have assumed St. Patrick's Day showed up a little early. Covered in green, Mardi Gras beads and Guinness-infused grins, thousands shuffled into the Pageant to take in the beloved Boston punkers' spirited Irish wail.

View a slideshow of photos from Dropkick Murphys/Against Me! at the Pageant

Minneapolis' Off With Their Heads popped the cork on the festivities. Although the band had just cruised through town with Less Than Jake at Pop's a few weeks back, you could tell OWTH was pleased to be back in St. Louis. Wasting no time, the band ripped through thirty minutes of economical, albeit spazzy, snot-core punk. Considering the majority of the band's songs are about depression and struggle, OWTH was in good spirits and all smiles. Although singer/guitarist Ryan Young is never one to go out of his way to be the "animated front man," OWTH's new lead guitar player kept things interesting with an animated scowl and flashy swagger. He viciously strummed in the same manner Johnny Ramone attacked his signature Mosrite guitar. By the time OWTH hammered through its final song, "Fuck You, I'm Out," the Pageant crowd was primed and ready for more raucous rock.

The folks who attended Against Me!'s Live On the Levee show with Silversun Pickups last July may not have recognized this version of the band. Only two members of Saturday night's lineup were present last July. And even singer Tom Gabel may have looked like a stranger, considering he apparently fired his barber and now dons shoulder-length, mop-like hair. The most glaring addition, though, was definitely drummer, and rock & roll royalty, Jay Weinberg.

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Todd Owyoung
Tom Gabel of Against Me!
In last week's Riverfront Times, Gabel hinted at the fact that Weinberg has brought a sense of urgency to the band. This urgency was ever-present throughout the band's high-intensity, fourteen-song set. As Gabel unleashed his signature howl, and guitarist James Bowman and bassist Andrew Seward delivered back-up vocals and on-stage flare, Weinberg (whose leg was in a cast, mind you) destroyed every inch of his kit. The guy just couldn't stop playing, which added a new continuous, seamless transition from song to song that AM! never had in the past. And when the band lunged into its crowd favorite, "Thrash Unreal," it sounded every bit of the stadium anthem it was intended to be.


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