The show must go on. I feel like that saying is more true now than ever. With the pandemic still raging, it has become almost normal for bands to drop off last minute due to cases in their crews but I don’t think a drop-off had hit me as hard as it did last night. Don’t get me wrong, I was stoked to see the other two bands but my heart sank ever so slightly when I got the notification that Bad Religion would not be performing on Tuesday night. Still, the show must go on, and after a little bit more time to get caught up on work at home, I made my way to the beautiful Palace Theatre in Saint Paul.
Baltimore-based War on Women took the stage first and it’s almost as if I had forgotten that one of the main bands on the bill had dropped off. This band has an undeniable sense of power, energy, and angst. The nods to the riot grrrl scene were heard and felt loud and clear throughout their set but it was more than that. War on Women’s sound is a bit all over the place. Of course, they had an undeniable punk edge to their sound but there were also nods to the hardcore scene and a more straight-up rock sound. I found myself completely captivated by vocalist Shana Potter and I promise it was more than just her colorful hair. Shawna just could not stand still and even admitted that due to what she called a slippery stage, we were getting all of her dance moves and she was just waiting for the moment she was going to fall down (and then she pointed at the photographers and told them to be ready and to not miss the shot). Although it was a funny little moment of banter, she wasn’t lying. She had her dancing shoes on and it just magnified the band’s ability to captivate the audience.
Although War on Women was the opening act, they had more than enough time on stage to convince everyone in the audience to pay attention. I don’t know if their set was extended due to there only being two bands on the bill on Tuesday night or if they usually play that long but, regardless, them being on stage for longer than a standard opener is not a complaint at all. Their forty-five-minute set was full of music that was all over the place stylistically while every song came with a politically charged message. The themes of their music range from everything from abortion rights to access to birth control and I feel like those messages were absolutely heard and felt throughout the audience even if the vocals, at times, were hard to hear. A little brash, a lot of edge, War on Women was a perfect opener for this show and I can’t wait to dig into this band a bit more.
As mentioned, Alkaline Trio’s set was extensive at twenty songs followed by a three-song encore but, honestly, I was a bit disappointed in that. I get that they are just a trio and they absolutely worked through every single song but, with the lack of headliner, Alkaline Trio had nothing but time and I just wish they would have given the audience just a few more songs. That being said, it was never going to be enough so I digress. I will say that their setlist was the perfect blend of new and old. Other than just a handful of tracks (* cough * “Stupid Kid” * cough *), I feel like I got to hear every song I wanted to hear and then some. As soon as the band would play the first chord of any of their tracks, you would inevitably hear someone around you scream to their friend, “YES! This is my favorite!”. It was that excitement and that energy that made the twenty-three song set seem to fly by much quicker than I think anyone really wanted. Even though Bad Religion was unable to perform, Alkaline Trio made sure they weren’t forgotten by opening their encore with a cover of their favorite Bad Religion song, “Do What You Want”. The cover was great the first time but the band insisted on playing it again. A funny moment yet a powerful nod to the legendary act that is Bad Religion, I think that was the first moment since the show started where I even remembered that I wasn’t going to get to see them live. That’s not a dig at them at all, just a testament to how great War on Women and Alkaline Trio were.
Everyone had “their moment” during the show on Tuesday night. Whether it was that moment you got spit out of the small pit that had formed or that moment when the vocals and instrumentation fell out during “Radio” and the entire audience screamed the words with all of their heart– you surely had a moment during the show if not many. The show must go on and although I’m bummed I didn’t get to see the one and only Bad Religion perform, I still feel more than satisfied with what I got.