Alternage: My First Year of Rock Concerts

by Chloe Kallberg

The first time Alternage graced the airwaves was the second Friday of February in 2021. When Rachel, Jesse, and I began this show, it was a running joke that I had only been to one “rock” concert in my life: The Barenaked Ladies. 

Don’t get me wrong, the “One Week” performers did put on a spectacular show, but I knew that I was missing out on a different experience. Constantly, I heard stories on and off the air about countless Riot Fests, co-headlining tours, secret shows, and sold out mosh pits from both of my co-hosts. Slight twinges of jealousy were always mixed in with my delight in hearing the tellings of their adventures, and I only hoped that one day I would be able to attend a concert or two. ​​That way, I could see all my favorite bands in action and accumulate some stories of my own. 

I never could have dreamed that, thanks to Alternage, I would attend three sold-out rock concerts by the end of the calendar year. Alternage has had some incredible opportunities to not only see some of our favorite bands live, but also interview a few of them. Recordings of our interviews have been included each Friday after the concert, and we have always paired those interviews with reviews and summaries of the shows. As fun as these conversations are, having those thoughts down in writing also serves a purpose. As a novice concertgoer, my perspective was formed by what I heard from others. What I experienced, however, was entirely my own. 

ANTI-FLAG at Reggie’s Rock Club

Openers: Doll Skin, Bad Cop Bad Cop

Surprisingly, I was already familiar with this venue. In October, I attended a DIY show supporting a friend’s band, but the attendance was sparse, and the crowd was polite. I saw Anti-Flag at Reggie’s a month later, and the transformation in the atmosphere was shocking. The Pennsylvanian political punks were prefaced by two groups, Doll Skin and Bad Cop Bad Cop. Both openers, like the headliner, were politically conscious and loved to rock. Their personalities were illuminated not only by the music they performed, but also the messages of unity and social consciousness that they repeatedly raised while punching the sky with their fists. A solid mix of old and new songs from Anti-Flag’s discography made the cut for the hour-long set list, including fan favorites “This is the End,” “Brandenburg Gate,” and “Die for Your Government,” the show’s closer, which shook the concrete floors. Every fan in the crowd reverberated with energy as they screamed the potent lyrics back at the song’s creators. 

Any Anti-Flag fan could realize the passion in the band’s performance and philosophy, but few are fortunate enough to have a direct conversation with a band member about these beliefs. Jesse and I were honored to sit down with Anti-Flag drummer Pat Thetic and speak with him about music, political mindfulness, and volunteerism. In true Anti-Flag fashion, the bone marrow donation registry “Punk Rock Saves Lives” made an appearance at the show, urging eligible fans to sign up and join a life-saving cause. A recording of the interview between Pat Thetic and your Alternage hosts can be found here!

DESTROY BOYS at Cobra Lounge

Openers: The Umbrellas, Jigsaw Youth

The Cobra Lounge wasn’t ready for Destroy Boys that night, in the best way possible. Jesse and I could sense it before the doors even opened, as we finished interviewing the band and had a brief look at sound check as we were leaving. The openers, The Umbrellas and Jigsaw Youth, were crossing and dotting their musical T’s and I’s, and even from that microscopic preview of the show, we knew that the entire audience was in for the show of a lifetime.

The Umbrellas offered a refreshing performance, focused on rhythm and balance between instruments and voices. Jigsaw Youth, in comparison, showcased emotion and strength firsthand with their lyricism and technique. The two openers in tandem seemed like a perfect fit for each other, as well as their headliner.

Destroy Boys championed for a safe and exciting show, encouraging their audience to make friends and be respectful to those around them. Their energy was quite down to earth, dividing the distance between the crowd and the band in half. That disposition made for a high energy show that fully fused the bond between Destroy Boys and every person in Cobra Lounge. 

HOT MULLIGAN at Bottom Lounge

Openers: Super American, Prince Daddy & the Hyena

A scheduling conflict with Jesse led to me attending this concert with a plus one. Both my plus one and I are quite new to rock concerts. The difference between the two of us is that I walked into the concert as a distinct Hot Mulligan fan. By the time we left the concert, though, that term applied to both of us, and likely everyone who attended the show. Every person in the venue was singing along during at least one chorus. Hot Mulligan knew how to entertain their fans during each song, as well as in between tracks. Appealing to their categorically younger audience, they played the riff to the “Mii” theme song from the Nintendo Wii periodically throughout the show. The audience was laughing and singing along with the theme just as much as they did with the actual set list.

The openers were paired perfectly with this band, as Super American and Prince Daddy & the Hyena both offered distinct sounds that showed the vastness of the post punk genre. Super American was fast, loud, and excitable while Prince Daddy & The Hyena offered a more crunchy, relaxed, and carefree sound. Both bands set up their headliner perfectly, but each band in the lineup was highly energetic and dedicated to the music. In turn, their audience was entirely dedicated as well.  Jesse and I are eternally grateful for all that Alternage has provided us in the past year. As much as these experiences have benefited us, we do it primarily for our listeners. Thanks to all who have tuned in since February of 2021. Here’s to another rockin’ year!