Saturday, September 19, 2009

Up The Revolution, Pittsburgh Style

Photo by Jazmin Million at Toronto's Warped Tour

Hey, Pittsburgh's home-grown, kick-out-the-jams punkers, Anti-Flag, were all ready to welcome the G-20 gang to the 'Burg with a Club Zoo concert, sponsored by the Students For A Democratic Society.

But they were thwarted by Mayor Luke and the Secret Service; the security zone would have made it well nigh impossible to get people into the Strip District venue without a major hassle. Pity; it was the last chance to see them here for awhile.

But don't obsess over missing their cancelled show. You may still get to see them live later in the week, just on the avenue instead of the stage. "We are looking forward to joining the thousands of young people in the streets of Pittsburgh," the band said after they scrubbed the booking, "to resist the failed policies of the G20."

After a little street theater, it's on the road again for the group.

They have their visas stamped for a couple of months on the far side of the Atlantic. Starting October 7th, Anti-Flag will be part of the Eastpak Antidote Tour 2009 with bands Alexisonfire, Four Year Strong and The Ghost Of A Thousand.

For six weeks, they'll gig in England, Luxembourg, the Czech Republic, Germany, Austria, Italy, France, Spain, Belgium, the Netherlands, Sweden, and Finland.

A trek like that is nothing out of the ordinary for Anti-Flag. They’ve toured in Russia, the Baltic, Scandinavia and Europe. AF has appeared on the Big Day Out festival tour in Australia with Rage Against the Machine, Billy Bragg, Arcade Fire and Bjork.

They were the only band to play two sets each day at the Leeds and Reading Festivals in England. Anti-Flag has headlined at the Rhein Kultur, the biggest free festival in Germany. And hey, they've pretty well criss-crossed the US, too, just finishing up the Warped Tour.

Why all the frequent flier mileage? Because they truly think music can change the world. Justin Sane (No, we don't think he's related to Justin Case), lead guitarist and band co-founder, explains:

"It is not a song, a record, a t-shirt, or a band that changes and shapes the world. It’s community and union. Our band writes songs to build community and union, to create awareness and preparedness for when the students and workers of the world push to level the playing field and bring equality."

All you have to do to understand where the band is coming from is to take a look at the play list on their latest release, "The People Or The Gun," issued by LA's Side One Dummy label and recorded in Pittsburgh at AF's newly-built studio.

It features “Sodom, Gomorrah, Washington D.C. (Sheep in Shepherd’s Clothing),” “The Economy is Suffering…Let It Die,” and “The Gre(A)t Depression.” No Pat Boone stuff there.

And the band does put its guitars where its mouth is. They’ve created the non-profit organizations Military Free Zone (opposing military recruitment in schools) and the Underground Action Alliance (a networking site for social justice).

Drummer Pat Thetic adds “It’s a priority to put the emphasis of our band and every show we play on community, whether it be canned food drives for local food banks, raising money to build wells in Africa, or clothing drives for the homeless.”

Hey, not every band in Pittsburgh is about the girls. Anti-Flag's message is all about social justice, and its chops have their roots in the Clash and the Ramones. And that's a sound worth listening to.

"Press Corpse" live from Pukkelpop 2008 (Kiewit, Belgium)

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