Anti-Flag - Live - Sound Control, Manchester

Sound Control, Manchester, England

 After almost two decades since their debut album release, and 10 albums later, it’s safe to say that the political Punks for Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania have now reached veteran status.
Anti-Flag are not showing any signs of slowing down, either. More like, they are using this experience to relay their message across the world on their latest tour, and it’s a powerful one.
We went along to Sound Control, Manchester to hear what they had to say.

Upon arrival at Sound Control, the first thing that is very noticeable (mostly due to the neon mohawks and horned mullets) is that Punk is very much alive and well. The second is that Anti-Flag, too, are very much alive and well, and seemingly haven’t aged in twenty years: the combination of angst and bopping seems to be the serum that can’t be bought or sold, sorry Mr L'Oréal.
Anti-Flag  have wasted no time over the years and are not about to start, it’s their last show in the UK, they jump straight onto the stage and into Turncoat. There are generations of punks, old and new, chanting and clapping in unison. The great thing about this crowd is that they have just as much, if not, more energy than most but with a sense of community and harmony, not the crowd-killing and pseudo-alpha attitude that seems to be more and more prominent on the other end of the heavy music scene lately.

Without wasting a breath, Anti-Flag tear through their set-list as if when they drop below a certain pace the stage might explode as part of some plot for an obscure sequel to a popular movie, or something. They blast out Fabled World and Broken Bones before greeting the crowd properly and igniting some fury into the revellers with a catchy chant: “F*#k police, F*#k police, F*#k police brutality”. With their middle fingers in the air the crowd burst into a frenzy.

The show continues with all the “Woah-ohs” and gang shouts you could ever dream of in I’d Tell you But…(That’s not us being cryptic, it is the title). This song is a great live demonstration of the benefits of dual vocals, allowing room for each to show their guitar and bass skills too.  Underground Network, with its military drum build up breaks out a huge pit and makes a great segue into the next shout along, Hymn For The Dead.

The lights cut out and the dark room is filled with a grunting bass line, with no cue from the band the audience are already chanting “Away, away, I can’t get away” as we enter the second half of the set.
Anti-Flag let the onlookers know that they are just warming up and invite the crowd to join in.
“We shout 1,2. You shout 1,2,3,4”, after a couple of test runs to make sure they are suitably pumped, the band burst back into the chorus and the party well and truly starts.

Despite how wild the crowd have become at this point, it is Anti-Flag’s last show in the U.K and they continue to push for more. It’s not long before the circle pits start and now that the Manchester crowd have demonstrated their counting skills, it’s time to hear some of their singing skills. All of those football chants come in handy with the Whoa-a-thon that is an Anti-Flag concert. The band are impressed for other reasons, too, citing Manchester as a city at the forefront against racism, homophobia and corrupt politicians. Of course, this could all be a ploy to pump them up further but the audience are happy to eat it up and exude the energy.

As we approach the end of the set, the band pause for one last message.
“We’re going to skip the theatrics for the encore, we have 3 songs and we’re going to play right through. Come together, be yourselves: big, small, straight, gay. There is no judgement and that doesn’t end here, take it with you, it’s your city. Look at the person to your left, shake their hand, make friends, and dance like no one is watching you”
The air is charged and the band can feel it. This is the kind of atmosphere and crowd control that comes with respect, respect for a band that have worked tirelessly since the last millennium against the atrocities of the world order, I digress.

Now, we’ve all seen bands that do that thing where they enter the audience and the crowd love it; Anti-Flag are in the zone and in the perfect venue to take it one step further. It’s not just the guitars and vocals this time: they enter the crowd with a full drum kit to play out the final few songs and yes, they definitely do play their most prominent and angst filled, pit inducing songs too. Chris Barker mounts a make shift stand and begins the chant that the crowd have been waiting for: “You’ve gotta die, gotta die, gotta die for your government. Die for you country that’s S*#t!”
It’s safe to say that from here on out Anti-Flag  got the send-off that they deserved. Well done, Manchester.

We’ve said it before and said it again, Punk is coming back; There will be a renaissance. The crowd tonight have shown the true spirit of Punk and although music genres come and go, that attitude is something that carries, especially in times like these. To see a band that has survived generations, and brought generations together, still performing at the top of their game is an absolute joy to behold. Anti-Flag, we don’t salute you (see what we did there?)