Gig/Concert: Chuck Ragan of Hot Water Music and Tom Gabel of Against Me!
Venue: Hyde Park Hotel, Perth, WA, Australia
Date: 16 May 2009
Headliners: Tom Gabel, Chuck Ragan
In one word: Bromance
It’s taken a while for the recent trend of old punk rockers and their acoustic guitars to make it to Australia, but things are off to a good start with these two veterans from Gainesville, Florida.
Opening the show was Australian singer/songwriter Darren Gibson. Not familiar with his work, he struck me as sounding very similar to Paul Dempsey from Something for Kate, and even included a cover of that band’s single ‘Captain’ in his set, as well as a version of Paul Kelly’s ‘To Her Door’ which got the crowd’s attention. Original song ‘Spencer St’ was a standout amongst what was ultimately a solid, if slightly sameish set.
In what was somewhat of a surprise, being that the show was booked as Chuck Ragan & Tom Gabel, Ragan was next up on stage. Opening with ‘Bloody Shells’ from his recent Bristle Ridge split release with Austin Lucas, Chuck’s set was filled with a good mix of his solo efforts, like ‘For Broken Ears’ and ‘The Boat’ and reworked Hot Water Music songs including ‘Trusty Chords’ and ‘Wayfarer’, whose sing-a-long chorus brought all the energy of a punk rock show with it.
With nothing but a clink of two pint glasses to signify that Chuck’s set was done and it was time for something new. Tom Gabel kicked into his set with Bob Dylan’s ‘Dream #1235’ and the title track off of his recent solo release Random Hearts. Against Me! tracks ‘Jordan’s 1st Choice’ and ‘Harsh Realm’ soon followed, as did ‘Untitled” from Against Me!’s Acoustic EP which continues the strong tradition of bands from Gainesville name dropping said town in their songs (in this instance, “from Hoboken to LA, from Portland to Gainesville”. See also, Less Than Jake’s ‘Gainesville Rock City’ and even Hot Water Music with ‘Free Radio Gainesville’). Must be something in the water. Alligators maybe?
Being the last show of the tour, spirits were amazingly high between both performers, and this was no more evident when Ragan made his way back on stage to accompany Mr Gabel on current radio single ‘Anna Was A Stool Pigeon’ with his harmonica and backing vocals (both of which appear on the album also), which lead to a full scale stage invasion by eager punters.
A brief Chuck Ragan encore followed to end what was an amazingly fun night of bawdy sing-a-longs and flowing beer. Not even the many beards on display in the crowd could hide the smiles.
© Steve Pass