Punk rock meets transgender blues

When Against Me! played a show in Denmark in 2007, the band was fronted by Tommy Gabel. When they return to Copenhagen later this month, Laura Jane Grace may be clutching the microphone while belting out the band’s hits. A line-up change? Well, sort of.

After 31 years of struggle with gender dysphoria, and despite dropping strong hints about her sexuality in songs like ‘The Ocean’ – “And if I could have chosen, I would have been born a woman/ My mother once told me she would have named me Laura” – Grace, formerly Gabel, finally went public with her gender identity. In a feature published by Rolling Stone in May, Grace announced to the world that she was embarking upon the first steps to living life as a woman.

“I look like a dude and feel like a dude, and it sucks,” Grace told Rolling Stone. “But eventually I’ll flip, and I’ll present as female.”

But this announcement isn’t stopping the band from making music or prompting discussions about disbandment. If anything, it’s provided Grace with a brand new theme within the realm of self-discovery to explore as a songwriter. Against Me! began recording a concept album about a transgender prostitute in February. The writing process for the album, called Transgender Dysphoria Blues, provided Grace with the impetus necessary to make the announcement to her bandmates, her friends and family, and to Rolling Stone’s readership.

“I think that pushing yourself out of your comfort zone is always good for creativity,” Grace told MTV News. “I’ve never been more further pushed out of my comfort zone than I am right now in my life.”

Against Me!’s first album to hit Billboard charts, Searching for a Former Clarity (2005), was praised by Punk News for lyrics which addressed “the effects of politics on real people”. With lyrics like “Confessing childhood secrets of dressing up in women’s clothes” and “Will everyone you ever meet or love/ Be just a relationship based on a false presumption?”, the title track also hints at Grace’s conflict of identity. Their 2007 release, New Wave, was named the year’s best album by Spin magazine. Though Transgender Dysphoria Blues might credit Laura Jane Grace as songwriter, vocalist and guitarist, Against Me!’s trademark punk sound with lyrics that unapologetically confront any topic, pleasant or not, isn’t going anywhere.

Against Me! fans will flood the floors of KB18 expecting to hear songs about politics and identity performed by a tight punk outfit, complete with crazy stage antics and the general insanity that has become almost synonymous with rock concerts. They won’t be disappointed. As Grace told Rolling Stone, “However fierce our band was in the past, imagine me, six-foot-two, in heels, f*cking screaming into someone’s face.”

Against Me!
Kødboderne 18
1714 Cph V
July 25; 167kr
3331 3933; www.kb18.net