Against Me! Play a Grand Opening

Against Me! in March. Photo: Jen Maler / Retna

Brooklyn’s Schadenfreude alarms were blasting away after Patti Smith’s opening-night gig at the Williamsburg Music Hall was scratched at the last minute on Tuesday. (The new Bowery Presents club hasn’t yet won over the L-train kids, still smarting from the shuttering of their old Northsix playpen.) But the Bowery masters promised Night #2 would happen, and we’re happy to report, it did. The joint was still looking pretty unfinished last night, the stairwells a vision in sheetrock, the downstairs lounge perfumed with something damp and probably toxic. Upstairs in the main hall, which is roomier and blander than its predecessor, the paint barely had time to dry before Florida’s caterwauling polito-punks Against Me! began peeling it right off again. The loud-as-hell headliners followed peppy ur-Williamsburgers Matt & Kim onstage and were as fierce and fixated on wreaking havoc as their openers were loony and distracted by the new houselights and bathrooms. (Crazy-boy singer-keyboardist Matt was most excited about the semi-see-through windows between the men’s and women’s rooms. “Kim likes looking at wieners,” he divulged. Adorable!)

By contrast, Against Me! singer Tom Gabel barely acknowledged the new digs, saving his considerable pipes for the howling of lefty screeds (“Condoleeza! Condoleeza!” being the most famous) and emo-punk shout-alongs, many coming off the band’s major-label-backed, Butch Vig–produced album, New Wave. The singer did pause from the near-constant barrage to read a scrap about an upcoming march on Washington (it’s September 15, tell your friends), but otherwise, it was nonstop rock and roll in the angsty, ardent tradition of Social Distortion, Ted Leo, and (yes, we’re going to say it) Nirvana. Despite a restrained, first-day-of-school vibe at the WMH, the crowd properly lost its shit from the beginning chords to the climactic chorus of “Sink, Florida, Sink.” There were crowd surfers, a brief scuffle or two, and moshing all around. With all due respect to Patti Smith (and apologies to Northsix loyalists), it was the right way to christen a rock club. —Jon Steinberg