Tavastia, Helsinki, Finland
Review and pictures by Petri da Costa
Anti Flag came back to Finland after 5 years since their last visit, which was the summer festival Ruisrock, and although the band has been constantly touring and releasing records, for some reason it took 5 years for them to return here. Luckily for the fans, the band decided to play a gig in Helsinki for their “American Spring” tour. Joining them in this night, and during their European tour, was The Homeless Gospel Choir.
Just a bit after 21o’clock, with people still getting inside Tavastia, Derek Vanetti, aka The Homeless Gospel Choir, got on stage. Not everybody knew what to expect for this gig, mainly because just a few people knew what kind of music or who was The Homeless Gospel Choir. I have to say that at first I thought it was a bit of an odd choice because I knew it wasn’t going to be a full band playing live and loud, just one man singing and playing accoustic guitar. Fortunately, the whole gig was a pleasant surprise. It didn’t matter the fact the crowd weren’t familiar with his songs, people seemed to enjoy this folk punk accoustic set.
It felt like a close and intimate gig between friends, which actually suited well as an opening act for Anti Flag. From his tributes to Freddie Mercury to his protest songs (and there were many according to him), Derek Vanetti definitely got a lot of fans after his 45 minute performance.
Now with Tavastia almost full, Anti Flag hit the stage and vocalist/guitarist Justin Sane screamed the first verses of “Turncoat” and from then on the whole place just went crazy. The fans during the whole gig were singing along with the band through their old catalogue: “Fuck Police Brutality”, “I’d tell you but…”, “Power to the Peaceful”, “This is the End (For You My Friend)”, and the more recent tunes like “Fabled World”, “Sky is Falling”, “All of the Poison, All of the Pain” and “Broken Bones”. As expected, during the fast paced “This Machine Kills Fascists”, there was a big circle pit that kept everybody moving.
The whole band was on fire, whether it’s a club show or a festival, Anti Flag knows how to get the whole crowd amped up even after 20 years of existence. After the more “calm” moments of “1 Trillion Dollars” and “Walk Away”, they finished the first part of the night with “The Press Corpse” and one of their most heaviest and fast songs: “Death of a Nation”.
They came back with “Hymn for the Dead”, a song that has a lot of different layers on the studio version, but live has a more stripped down vibe, and then the simple, but insane, “Fuck the Flag”, which always works well live. The band thanked the crowd and welcomed on stage Derek Vanetti to sing with them “Brandenburg Gate”, which originally has Tim Armstrong (Rancid) singing along vocalist/bassist Chris #2. This was another highlight of the gig, everybody together in arms singing with them.
To close this incredible night, they played another fan favorite: “Die for the Government”, and towards the end of the song the band stopped in order for drummer Pat to get parts of his drum set in the middle of the crowd, and Chris #2 joined him standing and singing on top of the bass drum. This is something that the band has been doing for sometime now live and many have seen before, but it didn’t diminish the impact. This very moment was the embodiment of unity, it represented perfectly the whole feeling of tonight’s gig, a sense of camaraderie among band and the everybody who came to Tavastia. On top of that, they still played another one, “Drink Drank Punk”, which closed their set.
Tonight reafirmed to those that haven’t seen Anti Flag live in many years as one of the best live bands. Just hope that they won’t take another 5 years to come back to Finland to play.
ANTI FLAG SET LIST:
Fuck Police Brutality
I’d Tell You But…
Sky is Falling
All of the Poison, All of the Pain
This is the End (For You My Friend)
Power to the Peaceful
This Machine Kills Fascists
1 Trillion Dollars
The Press Corpse
Death of a Nation
Hymn for the Dead
Fuck the Flag
Die for the Government
Drink Drank Punk