For the Charlotte show, Against Me! was the headline act, but less than three weeks after Grace came out, the group started traveling as the opener for The Cult, a band coasting on songs from the 1980s. The Cult-headlined shows tended to pull in an older audience. Given the generation gap, I went to a few of them this summer half-afraid to see someone disgusted or outraged by the gender-bending opener.
At a show in Philadelphia, I stood next to an ’80s rock couple, the man sporting a handlebar mustache and leathery skin, his arms wrapped around the woman, who wore a tight dress and a face that couldn’t be natural. It was clear that they weren’t familiar with Against Me! Still, they began to bop along, smiling. As a rowdy group of Against Me! supporters rushed the stage, the Cult crowd looked on bemused but friendly from the edges. One fan near the center thrust his arms up, hands clasped in a makeshift heart. Another shouted, “I love you Tom!” A third leaned over and offered a low-key rejoinder: “It’s Laura now.”
I spent a week following Against Me! on tour earlier this summer right after their leader singer came out as a transgender woman and wrote about it for the Sept/Oct issue of The American Prospect. Read it online here.