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A Sunday Night with Anti-Flag and We Are The Union

Since my long haul Covid has continued to keep me struggling with chronic fatigue, I started to set positive goals. Positive motivations for things I will do once this symptom is finally gone. However, this symptom has kept going and talking to my doctor we cannot pinpoint when exactly it will end. Despite that, time progressed toward one of those goals. That goal from the tour announcement was to get out to Anti-Flag with We Are the Union and Doll Skin and hopefully get to photograph it too. In that time, Doll Skin had to drop off, but in sad news you can find the good with The Venomous Pinks and The Limit Club added. So, this past Sunday night at Crescent Ballroom brought the awesome assortment of music together for one excellent show.

Wielding the stand-up bass and the stand-up drummer, The Limit Club would kick off the festivities. Fronted by Nick Feratu and his amazing, goal inspiring hair they rolled right into it their brand of Rockabilly. It is a band full of flair and smiles as they play. Nick took off his jacket after a couple songs to clearer reveal the “Die Nazi Scum” shirt adorned underneath. A message that should always be echoed.

Over on the guitar you had Miranda jumping around with a smirk and a smile. Strumming and dancing with the stand-up bass is while splitting lead vocal duties on songs. Then arguably you can say Niko is not just drumming, but by standing he is showing off some rhythmic dance moves too. You couldn’t ask for a better band to kick off any show better the Limit Club did this night.

Keeping the dancing and moving going was the L.A. based We Are The Union. This ska band was one of those 2020 discoveries for me. While things ground to a halt, I got introduced to them through Reade appearing on Devon Kay’s, of Direct Hit and Devon Kay and the Solutions, regular Twitch streams he did over that year and on. I grabbed their most recent album at the time, Self Care, initially from there. After that, the next year I was there at release for their most recent album, Ordinary Life. It is a wonderful album that expresses Reade embracing who she is at her core and the process getting there. Of course, discovering this new band meant I had to get out to watch them.

This show marks the second time, as the first time was with the Slackers earlier this year, that I had the pleasure to catch them. Further introducing them, the band includes Jer on the trombone, who most may know them as Skatune Network with the many self-produced and awesome Ska covers YouTube channel. Over on bass we find Brandon, on second guitar Ricky, behind the kit Brent, and Emily on saxophone.

This night was an emotional one as it marked Brent’s final show drumming for them. It made for a few tears as Reade reflected on it being the last time playing with him. Additionally, she made a plea during the set that if you are a trans ally to fight like hell against those with transphobic views and opinions who, as she phrased it, literally want her and others like her dead. The set consisted of newer tunes such as “Boys Will Be Girls” and closing on “Morbid Obsessions.” In honor of Brent’s final show, they pulled out the older tracks “MTV Is Over, If You Want It” and “I Am Like John Cusack…” I’d be amiss if I didn’t also mention they did a cover of Operation Ivy’s “Sound System” that brought out Chris #2, of Anti-Flag, to join on the microphone. If this sounds high energy, that’s because it was and there was a lot of dancing and jumping going on that stage. There is no argument, We Are The Union puts on a hell of a live performance.

Following them up is a band that has now played in other countries since last I caught them, The Venomous Pinks. Our local punks are now a worldwide act as they have played SBAM Festival and did a little European stint on top of U.S. touring. This night at the Crescent Ballroom they got to setup Anti-Flag. The Pinks brought their A game with Drea behind the mic and guitar, Gaby on that bass, and Cassie hammering the drums in back. All of them with microphones adding to the vocals through the songs.

Their set including a personal favorite off their newest album, Vita Mors, “Cross My Heart and Hope to Die” along with popular staples from over the years “We Do it Better” and “Todos Unidos.” Drea once again calling out Donald Trump can suck her dick, a norm since 2016. Tone setting punk rock going into our final act with another great set from the Venomous Pinks.

Lastly,  in the smallest venue I’ve watched them perform, Anti-Flag would take the stage at Crescent Ballroom. If anything, the smaller, more compact venue only played further into magnifying the energy of their performance. Justin Sane, lead vocals, was running around, singing directly to fans at the edge of the stage every moment he wasn’t singing lead vocals. Chris #2 was doing his trademark leaps and full enthusiasm embracing the crowd singing along. Of course, he was additionally perpetuating to get the pit going and get it going large. It always comes with his added message that if someone falls down, we pick them back up. Plus let us not forget Chris Head over on the other guitar moving and adding backing vocals with the always animated Pat Thetic behind those drums.

Anti-Flag continues to stand in my top five favorite artists to listen to and watch. They come out with such fervor, energy and supportive of everyone. This night once again upholding those staples. They broke out older songs such as “Drink, Drank, Punk” and “Turncoat” while introducing everyone to their first live hearing of “Laugh. Cry. Smile. Die,” from their forthcoming new album Lies They Tell our Children. They did a punk melody that included tracks such as “God Save The Queen” by the Sex Pistols and “Blitzkrieg Bop” by the Ramones. Chris #2 touted they learned the songs in that just for Brent’s, of We are the Union, last show.

During “This Is The End” we saw Meghan, former Doll Skin drummer, and Torri Ross, current Doll Skin guitarist, jump up on drums and microphone for an additionally cool moment. So while the full band couldn’t make it, we got a Doll Skin presence in the night. Despite having to fight to stay awake due to my ongoing long Covid during this set, I had a blast with what I could push through for singing along and watching. Anti-Flag once again putting on a fantastic set to round out an amazing Sunday night of music here in Phoenix.

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