GALLERY: Laura Jane Grace Gives Queer Punk Catharsis to Culture Room (w/ Weakened Friends and Palomino Blond)

Laura Jane Grace @ Culture Room

Alt-Punk singer Laura Jane Grace has had such a tumultuous relationship with the state of Florida it’s a miracle she even plays the Sunshine State at all. In her memoir “Tranny” she details an arrest in Jacksonville, growing up in the seedier part of Naples, and cutting her teeth in the Gainesville punk scene where her band Against Me! would eventually reach fame by traveling in the Warped Tour circuit, where amidst an external crisis of being perceived as a sell-out, she was also realizing her truth as a transgender woman. With Against Me! releasing their most recent record “Shape Shift With Me” in 2017, the band has been on hiatus since 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Previously, an Against Me! show was slated for Ft. Lauderdale venue “Culture Room” in March of 2020, however after the tour with the full band was never rescheduled, singer Laura Jane Grace who has been touring with the Devouring Mothers brought her solo tour back to Culture Room, armed only with an acoustic guitar in hand. 

Opening the show were Miami’s favorite children of sludgy-yet-sparkly shoegaze Palomino Blond. As Carli Acosta (Vocals/Guitar) mentioned on stage, the quintet managed to open for Laura by pure happenstance. On Friday, April 14 the band was in Gainesville doing a show at Loosey’s, while nearby Laura was performing at the High Dive. A chance encounter with Acosta and Grace lead to the crew being the local support on the South Florida stop of Laura’s extensive tour. With their latest record “ontheinside” being released in 2021, the band teased some new songs in the set. Acosta’s more stoic stage presence is a foil to Kyle Fink, whose dynamic (Vocals/Guitar) with Jared Steingold (Guitar) see both musicians slinging axes and tossing their hair wildly throughout the set. Having covered the band a few times as regular openers for major touring acts like A Place to Bury Strangers and Slothrust, while embarking on their own tours, it will not be long until Palomino Blond isn’t just Florida’s best kept secret.

Touring with Laura is Portland, ME based band Weakened Friends. Comprising of Sonia Sturino (Vocals/Guitar) with Annie Hoffman (Bass/Vocals) and Adam Hand (Drums), the mighty trio are loaded with 90s power chords and earworm hooks evokes a sound of Pavement meets Liz Phair. On their latest record “Quitter,” while the band’s nostalgic approach to crafting songs can feel like a throwback, lyrically Sturino riffs on being an artist in the modern age, with the central conceit of the record based on the idea of quitting music altogether. On the song “Spew” she refrains “money makes the world go ‘round, honey honey, until we all spew” lamenting on capitalism’s place in making art. With a bit of a bratty inflection in her vocals, Sturino’s delivery over singer-songwriter compositions blend perfectly into the headliner’s diaristic acoustic set.

As the strings of Judy Garland’s “Somewhere Over the Rainbow” provide an overture, singer-songwriter Laura Jane Grace struts onto the stage in an unassuming black muscle tee and jeans, grabbing a black Yamaha acoustic guitar adorned in glittery red and silver stars.  “Does God bless your transsexual heart?” Laura Jane Grace cheekily delivers on the song “True Trans Soul Rebel” to a mostly young and queer audience before her in the Culture Room. Strumming her way through the set, Grace commands the house with a powerful voice, choosing to perform many cuts about the state of Florida. From “White Crosses” detailing her life in St. Augustine to the politically charged “Miami” and “Sink, Florida, Sink” the singer’s history with the Sunshine State, lamenting the ever-changing music scene with many venues and places in her childhood transforming over time. In the set, she also tossed in some new tracks like “Cuffing Season” and the unreleased “Dysphoria Hoodie” that saw the singer turn into “transsexual Gallagher” by donning a formless Adidas hoodie. Amidst all the animosity towards queer individuals due to heinous anti-gay and anti-trans legislation in the state of Florida, Grace’s show provides a moment of levity. With a middle finger pointed towards the authoritative, carceral state, Laura Jane Grace’s massive choruses provide a cathartic moment to belt out against fascism. A true woman of the people, Grace closed out her encore by taking audience requests. Specifically, one woman with blonde hair who would sing lines at Laura to give song requests at. After a four song encore of deep cuts, the Muppets song “Rainbow Connection” played overhead, ushering the crowd out of the Culture Room.


True Trans Soul Rebel  
White Crosses  
Cuffing Season (New Song)
Anna Is a Stool Pigeon
Manic Depression  
I Hate Chicago
Dysphoria Hoodie (New Song)
Pints of Guinness Make You Strong  
The Swimming Pool Song
Unconditional Love  
Cavalier Eternal 
The Disco Before the Breakdown  
T.S.R. (This Shit Rules)  
Black Me Out  
Sink, Florida, Sink  
I Was a Teenage Anarchist  

Three of Hearts

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