Event: Anti-Flag – Fall Tour 2022
Venue: Sanctuary Detroit, Hamtramck, Michigan
Date: November 5, 2022
Artists Performed: Blind Adam & the Federal League, We Are the Union, Anti-Flag
Deep in the heart of Detroit lies a small, dark, and amazing venue known as Sanctuary Detroit in a small city called Hamtramck. When people outside of Michigan think of Hamtramck it is often that the spelling is funny and missing some vowels. When people in Michigan think of Hamtramck, they think of one of a few things, Polish families, Paçzki, and/or America’s first town to have an all-Muslim city government. Being the most culturally diverse city in Michigan makes Hamtramck a lovely and welcoming place for all, especially at the several music venues in the tiny city. One thing that is typically not thought of is it being a music city. Having big-name bands such as Anti-flag is one way the multiple music venues in the tiny city are trying to change that narrative.
Openers Blind Adam and the Federal League was one hell of a way to start the night. After being hyped up by local fans, including myself, who saw them open for Bouncing Souls earlier this year they did not disappoint. The Chicago-based band is fronted by ‘Blind’ Adam Gogola with Tim Schumann on guitar, Alex Simotes on bass, Athen Erbter on drums, and Nick Cvijovic on support guitar. They started the night off on the right foot. Warming up the ample crowd and preparing everyone for a fun night of punk music to let out some much-needed tension. They played a solid set and spent the rest of the evening having fun and hanging out and enjoying the show. Not only are the guys in the band great musicians they are very nice humans! If you haven’t heard of Blind Adam and the Federal League, they are worth a listen.
Up next was the ska punk band originally from Ann Arbor Michigan, We are the Union. The band is led by Reade Wolcott on guitar and vocals. She was joined on stage by Brandon Benson on guitar, Ricky Weber on lead guitar, Brent Friedman on drums, Jeremy Hunter on trombone, and Emily Williams on saxophone. They started out with the song “Broken Brain.” The song, like many of them, is so fun sounding but touching on real and sometimes serious subjects. They took a pause in the set to say, “if you have any trans or any LGBTQ people in your life, check on them.” The crowd was totally with them in this statement as they cheered loudly. They continued and played a cover of Operation Ivy’s “Sound System” that proved We are the Union showed up to give Detroit a good time and totally delivered.
As the lights went down it was time for Anti-Flag to come out! The four-piece punk band from Pittsburgh, PA is made up of Justin Sane on lead guitar and vocals, Chris “No. 2” Barker on bass guitar and vocals, Chris Head on rhythm guitar and backup vocals, and Pat Thetic on drums. They came out strong with “The Fight of Our Lives.” The group is well known for their political, social, human, and animal activism. This song was a dive right into the issues they sing and fight for. The majority of the 18-song setlist kept up this expected, yet still very appreciated theme. While Anti-Flag’s political and activist views are not for everyone, the people in the crowd had a great sense of comradery knowing everyone in the room was someone who feels like they do on at least some level.
Punk shows are a fantastic way to let out frustration by singing along, stage diving, moshing, crowd surfing, or even just making a new friend. Chris “No 2” embodied that feeling when he encouraged everyone to make a circle pit but also reminded everyone that “if someone falls down, we help them up” right before starting up the song “Broken Bones.” This song only amped up the crowd’s circle pit. As the set continued Chris “No 2” chimed in again to remind everyone to “please remember your neighbor is not your enemy. Fight fascism with every breath” right before starting the chords for “This Machine Kills Fascists.”
The next thing played was a punk rock medley of covers including “Should I Stay or Should I Go,” “God Save the Queen,” “Rise Above,” “Fall Back Down,” “If the Kids Are United,” “She,” and “Blitzkrieg Bop.” This was a fun mix of songs paying homage to the legends who made punk what it is today. Sadly, this also meant that there were only three songs left. They started the closing three songs with “This Is the End (For You My Friend)” and then continued with the very popular song with heavy rotation on punk radio, “American Attraction.” They ended the set with my personal favorite, “Brandenburg Gate.” After a long, hard, and mentally taxing week this song and the whole setlist made all those worries go away for a while. The mood shift from the start of the night to the end of the last song could be seen. The whole crowd was more relaxed and energized as the venue emptied.