Anti-Flag @ Starland Ballroom

SAYREVILLE. NJ—Winter tours are sure to have faced you with an important decision to make when snow is predicted – to go to a show or not. That was the dilemma I had for the Starland Ballroom stop on Anti-Flag’s ‘The Economy Sucks, Let’s Party’ tour. But, when snow hadn’t even begun to fall, how much really can accumulate over three hours?

However, I did wait till the last minute to see if the snow would fall and not surprise me halfway through the drive. To my fault, I missed Canadian hardcore punk band Cancer Bats, who were just finishing up as I entered the venue. I had seen them a few months ago at a small club and was eager to see them take command of a larger stage.

There will be more tour dates to come to see them again, as a new spring release is on the horizon. Next up was Aiden and I am still a bit confused on how they fit on the bill or got to be the band to go on right before the headliners.

I may have been an Aiden fan circa their first and second full-lengths, but now their material made their set a little campy, never mind the ‘goth’ look donned by the band. Whether you were into the music or not, I must admit the two older tracks I knew made me smile a bit, you could not deny the love between artist and fan.

Right after the second song, lead singer wiL decided to invite fans to fill the gap between the stage and barrier. The security guards did not seem entirely thrilled, nor objected to the request, well for a few songs anyways. While fans up front were having fun, wiL addressed the disrespectful crowd at the bar by reminding them they’ll never get these forty minutes back, before ending the set with “Scavengers of the Damned.”

Before Anti-Flag took the stage, surveying the crowd was fun, seeing a relatively young group with scattered mohawks, ripped clothing and piercings galore. Even more amusing was once the music began, they all scurried together to form a circle pit, which lasted most of the night.

Kicking things off were two of my favorite tracks, “Press Corpse” and “Sodom, Gomorrah, Washington D.C.” Next thing I knew, fans were crowd surfing to the front and opening up the floor in a friendly manner. There was a bit of room on the floor to do so, thanks to the fear that the snow probably did instill in those that may have been there otherwise.

The set was kept short, like any punk rock performance. There was also a little shake up halfway through when guitarist and singer Chris #2 had to make an example of apparently skinheads who were removed from the venue due to a scuffle. It seems an Anti-Flag show isn’t complete without something going down.

With many songs off their current release, The People or the Gun, sticking out in their set, that brotherhood and unity feeling off “The Gre(A)t Depression” was brought out in a unique way. They encouraged select fans to come up on stage to help out with a few of the percussion pieces.

Of course they fell victim to the fake ending/encore and came back out to fans cheering for ‘one more song.’ Instead of Anti-Flag material, they pleased with three covers of The Clash. Fitting enough to end things up was “Should I Stay Or Should I Go.” But just as we were getting ready to walk out, with some of the house lights coming back and roadies taking apart the drum kit, they played on for just one more song.