Matt Skiba – Laura Jane Grace – and Joey Balls – at The Beauty Bar – Las Vegas, NV

May 26, 2012

Saturday night's show at the Beauty Bar hosted "Matt Skiba and friends," This was a sleeper show, that had everyone wondering, "who will make an appearance" The rumor that had been circling was, that Laura Jane Grace of Against Me! (formerly known as Tom Gabel) would be opening. Via Twitter Matt Skiba announced that this rumor was indeed the truth!

Old Man Markley/Youth Brigade's Joey Balls started the show with an acoustic set attempting to entertain the crowd with jokes, silly renditions of pop songs, and even threw in OMM's "Guts & Teeth" . He did well for the first 30 minutes. I have to say he really took one for the team as the audience waited for a missing in action Matt Skiba.

At one point Shawn Stern of Youth Brigade approached the stage with a list of the bowling teams that made it to the second round of the games. Still trying his damndest to stall for his friends, Joey Balls read them off via a song and sang off the information to the audience.

As the hours passed and it was approaching 1 am (with no sign of Skiba) if everyone was thinking along the same lines as me, they were wishing they had stayed in an extra 3 hrs and taken a nap. Just as I was about to give hope up on ever seeing Matt or Laura, a guitar tech made it to the stage and started to prep for a set. By this time the venue was packed to capacity and people lined the alley, standing on dumpsters to catch a glimpse of the show.

Mike Wiebe, vocalist for the Riverboat Gamblers was the first to make it on stage. At first I thought he would be playing the bill. However as he started to talk and talk....and talk. It was apparent he would not be singing. While I'm sure he had thought out how he was going to introduce Laura Jane Grace, the long winded story about meeting and taking a picture with Bruce Springsteen while on tour with Against Me!, felt more like we were being taunted after already waiting 3 hrs for a performance, and it didn't seem to translate well to the concert goers. The restless crowd started to heckle and shout things like, "shut the fuck up, nobody cares!" While the heckling was rude, I couldn't blame them. They were saying what everyone in attendance was feeling. Not to mention people got super fucking drunk during their wait!

Finally Laura Jane Grace made it to the stage for one of the first appearances made since the announcement that Grace was "coming out" as a transgender. Grace opened with "Baby I'm an Anarchist", played fittingly, her new song "Transgender Dysphoria Blues" among other Against Me! hits, and closed her set with "Sink Florida Sink." Grace was well received by the crowd, and with the recent news of her gender change, the audience embraced her presence and demonstrated their support by singing along and crowd surfing through the entirety of her 25 minute set.

   Video of Laura Jane Grace

When Matt Skiba finally appeared around 1:45 a.m, he performed several Alkaline Trio songs including "Blue in the Face" and was met with a strong response when he performed "Hell Yes." At one point a very large breasted woman threw her red bra on stage to show her adoration. After a short 20 minute set, Skiba ended with "Good Fucking Bye," 

At the end of his time, the audience chanted for an encore, but Matt Skiba wasn't having it and came back on stage to say, "No, really, no...... good fucking bye!" With that, the show was over and everyone started making their way back to the casinos and bars on Freemont street to fill their night with more debauchery.

Joey, Matt, and Laura's performances were great while they were actually performing, however, I got the feeling everyone felt a little short changed for the lengthy wait and short sets. Sorry Joey...I know you did your best, you rock! Regardless of the circumstances, seeing Laura Jane Grace perform was still truly a highlight of of the Punk Rock Bowling weekend!


More photos of the show can be seen HERE


Big Wheel Staff  Reporter


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