@Newcastle Riverside, October 23 2015

Anti-Flag are a band who have never failed to live up to their name. Riding the political punk wave since 1988, they’ve left an anti-government stench wherever they’ve graced their presence. 

Some may roll their eyes at the band’s passionate protests (once you’ve heard one, you’ve kinda heard them all), but it’s clear that anyone who chooses to attend an Anti-Flag show knows exactly what they’re going to get – and they can’t bloody wait to join in.

Considering the band haven’t played in the North East for quite a few years, the Quayside’s Riverside venue was surprisingly empty. Lack of atmosphere aside, everyone in the room was lapping up the support bands and revving themselves up for the arrival of the Pennsylvanian four-piece.

Frontman Justin Sane’s perfectly groomed Mohican always refuses to budge during shows no matter how chaotic they may be – and this gig was no different at all. Paired with bass guitarist and second vocalist Chris Barker (or Chris #2 as he’s better known), they serve as the powerful and gripping forefront to Anti-Flag, waiting no longer than two tracks in before those anti-right-wing speeches began to creep into the set.

Faultless renditions of classics Turncoat, Underground Network and The Press Corpse provided the room with the energy it needed, and what the crowd lacked in size they definitely made up for in enthusiasm. Drummer Pat Thetic looked like he was ready to pass out at any moment but not before shifting his kit down onto the floor to play some songs in the midst of the chaos.

Of course, it had to be anthems Die For the Government and Drink Drank Punk to close the evening, and with the crowd circled around them the band didn’t hesitate to stop for photo opportunities and thank each and every individual in the room.

Sold-out Academy venues may not be something on Anti-Flag’s agenda anymore, but as long as they can preach those arguably out-dated speeches to the ones who still actually care, then I’m sure that’s all that really matters.

Emma Carter