by Sachyn Mital
Laura Jane Grace & Atom Willard @ Lincoln Center - 2/19/16
Against Me! singer Laura Jane Grace is on tour now and just hit NYC twice. The first was a not-so-secret appearance at the Gender Is Over! (If You Want It) benefit at Silent Barn on Thursday (2/18) (pictures) and the second was the American Songbook series the next night (2/19). Pictures and a recap of the latter are in this post.
Her performance for Lincoln Center's American Songbook series met if not exceeded all of the audience's expectations. The one aspect that was lacking was she didn't return for an encore even after a nearly five minute standing ovation. But who can blame her? Grace admitted during the set that she was "fucking nervous coming out on this tour... this show, this is heavy." "Look at that fuckin' view," she continued. "I was so nervous about that that I have not smoked weed in a month. That's suffering for your fucking art."
Like at Silent Barn the previous night, her Against Me! bandmate Atom Willard and Marc Jacob Hudson (who engineered the band's recent live album) joined her at Lincoln Center, on drums and bass respectively, supporting her as she played and biding their time as Grace provided some background about her songs. Parsing through her journals periodically to find the relevant story, Grace shared a story about her deceased friend CeCe and then writing the song "Because of the Shame" in her memory.
"Where does it all end. It ends on this stage. This stage is a church to me. I don't believe in god but I pray all the time. I do believe in visualization, manifestation and actualization. I read through these old journals. I sing through these songs. With each breath it all gets that much further behind me. It's still with me, always just the same. I have to accept all these truths about myself, as we all do, and I feel no choice but to take all these feelings that once kept me so caged and set them free. And hope by doing so they can do the same for me."
Grace stated all that before the powerful "Bamboo Bones" as she welcomed out a violinist to play on the song. Afterwards, a trio of drummers came on stage for the final number "Black Me Out". And though she didn't provide an encore, shortly after leaving the stage, Grace did quickly return to grab her journals. While Grace has never been shy to bare herself lyrically, the Songbook platform allowed her to reveal more of herself as she pulled stories straight from her precious tomes.
More pictures from Lincoln Center below...