Laura Jane Grace played her last show of 2022 at Ardmore Music Hall with Gladie - WXPN | Vinyl At Heart

It was an acoustic show, but Laura Jane Grace was determined to make her final gig of 2022 not “just” an acoustic show.

“I know how it is!” she said, telling fans at Ardmore Music Hall that when she goes out for the night and gets to the venue and realizes the set is stripped-down and solo, her reaction is something akin to the 😬 emoji. “I think the human brain can only take like 20 songs being played on an acoustic guitar in one sitting.”

As it turned out, Grace played 27 songs, and didn’t have to do all that much extra to make the set just as compelling as an Against Me! concert. Her voice is towering and grabs the whole room from the jump; her charisma and energy doesn’t decline from being the only person onstage; her banter is fun and funny, even when discussing serious stuff like toxic midwestern cities and coping with dysphoria. And the songs? The songs are stellar, and infinitely sing-along-able, much in the same way a Mountain Goats show is. So it makes total sense that Grace covered “The Best Ever Death Metal Band In Denton” at the midway point of the night.

Laura Jane Grace | photo by John Vettese for WXPN

Over the course of the night, Grace featured a couple songs from Bought To Rot, her 2018’album with The Devouring Mothers (“I Hate Chicago,” “Manic Depression”). She also played choice selections from across her solo discography: the terrific “Anna Is A Stool Pigeon” from Heart Burns, and “The Swimming Pool Song” from 2020’s raw Stay Alive album. The vast majority of the setlist, though, came from all across the Against Me! canon, “Pints Of Guinness Make You Strong” to “Baby, I’m An Anarchist” to “White Crosses” to “333.”

And then there was a generous helping of unreleased songs that will be on the next project Grace records early next year. It was cool to hear the uniquely eclectic path her songwriting is traveling; “All Fucked Out” and “It’s Cuffing Season” are slice-of-life and vaguely sardonic songs, Laura Jane Grace playing the role of Randy Newman as it were (even if the former was in a roundabout way inspired by BTS). Meanwhile, Grace’s gift for crafting emotional connections shone on the raw and vulnerable “Dysphoria Hoodie” — a song she said was about the metaphorical and sometimes sartorial armor that helps gender-nonconforming people through day to day life in an unkind and uncaring world — while her skills in social and political critique roared on the encore cut “I’m Not A Cop,” which takes aim at not only violence and racism and corruption in law enforcement but the “cop mentality” that can impact all corners of life.  Whatever Laura Jane Grace does next, I’m here for it.

Gladie | photo by John Vettese for WXPN

Know what else I’m here for? Don’t Know What You’re In Until You’re Out, the outstanding new album from Philadelphia’s Gladie, who opened the night with a rousing set in their current five-piece configuration: frontperson Augusta Koch and longtime collaborator Matt Schimelfenig on guitar, with bassist Liz Parsons, guitarist Pat Conaboy, and drummer Miles Ziskind.

Koch’s voice soared from the stage out to Lancaster Avenue and the music was a mix of crunchy riffs, heady atmospheres, and hooks; “Hit The Ground Running” was a highlight, punctuated by Ardmore Music Hall’s disco ball frenetically spinning at cyclonic speed, while the high-octane rager “Nothing,” the measured catharsis of “Born Yesterday,” and the back-catalog throwback “20/20” all landed spectacularly.

You can read more about Gladie in Sean Fennell’s review of Don’t Know What You’re In Until You’re Out, and you can see them on December 17th when they play the First Unitarian Church with Jeff Rosenstock (more information at the WXPN Concerts and Events page). Below, check out photos from the show and a rundown of Laura Jane Grace’s setlist.

Laura Jane Grace
Ardmore Music Hall
  • True Trans Soul Rebel
  • 333
  • Give Up The Ghost
  • Unconditional Love
  • Manic Depression
  • The Swimming Pool Song
  • All Fucked Out
  • Pints Of Guinness Make You Strong
  • Because of the Shame
  • Shit Stroll
  • Tonight We're Gonna Give It 35%
  • Cavalier Eternal
  • I Hate Chicago
  • Dysphoria Hoodie
  • Smug FuckFace
  • The Best Ever Death Metal Band In Denton
  • Anna Is a Stool Pigeon
  • White Crosses
  • It's Cuffing Season
  • Holy Shit!
  • Reinventing Axl Rose
  • Baby, I'm an Anarchist!
  • Black Me Out
  • Sink, Florida, Sink
  • Joy
  • I'm Not a Cop
  • I Was a Teenage Anarchist
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