Pop’s Nightclub, just across the river outside of St. Louis, has become the Mecca for punk and hardcore music. And so, it was a natural that they’d host the punk show of the season: A.K.A.s, Smoke or Fire, The Unseen, The Casualties and the almighty legends, Anti-Flag.
On this night, we’re talking authentic punk rock. No cutesy boy-bands. No whiney emo. Just some serious anger issues, mixed with great guitar and percussion.
Opening the show was the A.K.A.’s; Another political punk band who means well, has a good message, but overall were nothing special. They did seem to have fans in the crowd, however, which was an accomplishment as most of the audience didn’t arrive until after the two opening bands.
Next up was Smoke or Fire, with a sound, a set, and an audience response that was almost exactly the same as the opening band. They didn’t seem to pump the crowd up much at all, but there was still plenty of room on the floor.
When the Boston-based punk band, The Unseen took the stage, the show started to get more exciting. This was the first band of the evening to definitely make a major impact pleasing the crowd. Opening with their song, “Weapons of Mass Destruction,” the mosh pit immediately began to boil with humanity. Not ones to be told their hairstyles should have been left in the 1980s, most of the band sports foot-high Mohawks or spiky hair, as do many of the fans. They played a generous mix of songs off all of their records and were a huge hit for the night.
Following that hard-to-match set was one of the coolest punk bands around today, The Casualties. Their show began with a red police siren light and got more law-breaking from there. Since they have so many albums under their belt, they couldn’t give a heavy musical representation to one specific era of their music. The band played a little from each album including “Unknown Soldier,” one of their most popular songs.
The excitement for headliners, Anti-Flag, seemed, well, flagging. After the four other bands, the crowd was definitely tired. But then, the lights dimmed, and Anti-Flag came on with the surprising opener from their first CD, “Fuck Police Brutality,” causing the energy to quickly resume.
Their new album, For Blood and Empire was just released [A-F Records], and the crowd was treated to a couple new tracks off of that, as well. As the set began to wind down, they closed with title track of that first album, the thought-provoking “Die for the Government.”
Soon after, the audience was chanting for an encore—which they got. The band played three more songs: “One Trillion Dollars,” “This Machine Kills Fascists,” and “Turncoat.” It was a night of rage, thought, and all-around great punk rock music.