A night full of energy, pumping punk hearts and throwback feelings to the ’90s and early ’00’s, on the 6 August 2022, the American Punk Band Anti-Flag visited London Town, supported by Last Hounds and Tigress.
Anti Flag, Last Hounds and Tigress.
The Garage. 6 August 2022
Words and photography: Mariam Osman
The Hardcore band, Last Hounds from Birmingham, kicked off the night at The Garage at Highbury and Islington, London. Formed in 2013, the band has honed their songwriting craft in recent years and developed a loyal fan base throughout the UK.
Like many other artists in the industry, the pandemic hit them hard. They were putting the finishing touches on their full-length debut album called Burden when Covid-19 started, and the release date was moved to Autumn 2021. Nonetheless, they came back on stage full of heavy, infectious energy.
The room was vibrating with countless fists in the air. Lead singer Mike Skelcher jumped around on stage for the whole show, much like the Duracell bunny. To motivate the fans even more, he even climbed over the barrier and found himself surrounded by headbanging fans during Bleed. With Snakeskin, the ninth track of the evening from their album Burden, the set ended, and fans were satisfied with the opener of the evening.
Next up, female front power with Tigress. Front singer Katy Jackson definitely owned the stage from the first moment she entered and started singing Powerlines. Another very energetic band which made everyone move heads and hands. Lots of smiles, heavy guitars, powerful drums and screams.
In 2021, they released their latest album Pura Vida, from which they played songs like Choke and Feel It this evening. Supported by shredding guitars, Jackson encouraged the fans to jump by saying, “It’s good for your cardio”. Some fans even managed to sing along to some tracks, which shows the band’s growing success over the past few years.
Tigress ended their setlist with Disconnect, where Jackson got the vast majority of the venue to shout along. A great young support band which are gaining more recognition with each show.
Finally, the band for which everyone had waited. Formed back in 1988 in Pittsburgh by vocalist and guitarist Justin Sane and drummer Pat Thetic, Anti-Flag became a crucial part of the punk era of the ’90s and early ’00s.
Not only were they an essential part of the teenage years of millennials, but they are also still relevant to the punk scene today. And no matter what time period, their song lyrics about anti-homophobia, anti-racism, anti-capitalism, anti-war, anti-corruption and many other political and social issues are as fitting now as they were back then.
This evening the band was joined by Mark Code as backing vocals and Erik Pitluga on Guitar. Supported by air raid sirens, the band walked on stage and kicked their show off with The Press Corpse. As known from previous Anti-Flag shows, Chris No2 loves to jump up and down on stage and doesn’t seem to get tired easily. What stamina.
Next up, Die For The Government always brings a huge cheer from the fans. Instead of the usual devil horns, fans hold up two fingers for the peace sign, which is a beautiful gesture to show peace and unity. Despite what other people who misunderstand punk, Metal or rock might say, all bands, including Anti-Flag, want to spread kindness and political and social awareness and want to encourage everyone to take care of one another.
The band have just released a brand new album called Lies They Tell Our Children, from which they played Laugh.Cry.Smile.Die. It features a lot of well-known punk musicians like Shane Told of Silverstein, who contributed to this song on the album. During the track, Chris No2 called for a circle pit and leaned forward towards the first row and almost touched them.
Later on, one fan took it a bit too far and interrupted the show while the band was playing Broken Bones as he tried to jump on stage and was held back by the security. Justin, as well as Chris No2, professionally told the guy off without insulting him by saying, “This guy just did something completely dumb. Even though it was with good intent, it was still dumb. We are here to respect each another, and it only works as a two-way stream. We are all here to have fun but also to be safe, and this just now was not ok.” After the situation was sorted and the guy escorted away from the stage, the band continued with the song.
By the time the band played 1 Trillion Dollars, the whole venue had turned into a sauna with sweating, wet fans with a certain odour. Justin told the fans to give a round of applause for just being here after these hard couple of years. He also encouraged everyone to shake with everyone next to him or her as we are all one family, and we need to stick together and help each other. He and Chris also called out Boris Johnson for being a “fucking rich and corrupt person” and that it is apparently “not a coincidence” that he resigned on the same day the band came into town, “just saying”.
Another new song came up next called Fight For Our Lives” for which Tim McIlrath of Rise Against and Brian Baker of Bad Religion featured on the album. It is about gay and abortion rights which are definitely relevant subjects to raise.
More sing-along songs followed like Fuck Police, The Disease and of course, This Is The End. To “skip the theatrics,” according to Justin, they announced they would play three more songs. Before starting American Attraction, he called out the Ukraine War, which has been going on for over 160 days already. “Bloodshed, death, misery and for what? This next song is a huge FUCK YOU Putin and all other presidents of war.”
To give the fans another push of motivation, the fast collection of Punk Medleys did the trick. From Should I Stay Or Should I Go, God Save The Queen, Rise Above, Fall Back Down, If The Kids Are United and She, to a final round of Blitzkrieg Bop. The set ended with a circle pit, hands in the air while chanting “WHOOOAAA” during Cities Burn.
This ended a night full of energy and pumping punk hearts. Generously sharing some guitar picks, drum sticks and giving away the setlist, the band left the stage.
- The Press Corpse
- Die For The Government
- Brandenburg Gate
- Hate Conquers All
- The Criminals
- Broken Bones
- 1 Trillion Dollars
- Fight For Our Lives
- Drink, Drank, Punk
- Christian Nationalist
- Fuck Police
- The Disease
- Smartest Bomb
- This Is The End
- American Attraction
- Punk Medley
- Cities Burn
- A Letter to Death
- Feel It
- Bring Me Down
- Slow Burn
- They Say
- Running with The Dead