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Live Acoustic at 11th Street Records
Release date: November 20, 2015
Anti-Flag was one of the best bands to come out of the 1990’s punk resurgence, and certainly one of the hardest working groups to emerge from the bowels of Pittsburgh, PA. Their 1996 debut Die For the Government is an iconic album. In the past twenty years the band has released ten full length albums, rising from the ranks of indie labels through a period on a major label, and moving back to their indie roots. The band’s latest studio album, American Spring, was released on Spinefarm Records (one of this writer’s favorite labels) in 2015. Live Acoustic at 11th Street Records was recorded during a promo event for that release, and is a worthy addition to the Anti-Flag catalog.
While Anti-Flag isn’t known as an acoustic band, these nine songs were recorded with singer Justin Sane and bassist Chris #2 both performing acoustic guitars and vocals at an in-store performance. Surprisingly, the songs lose no power or energy in the translation to an unplugged format. Songs from American Spring make up a third of the tracks (“Fabled World,” “Brandenburg Gate” and “Without End”), which is appropriate, given the timing of the recording with the release of that chapter of AF history. The remaining six songs span the band’s catalog, including the title track of their debut, which is obviously a fan favorite. Songs like “One Trillion Dollars” and “Broken Bones” are maybe more powerful than ever, as the stripped down delivery lets the clever and intelligent lyrics shine through.
As anyone familiar with Anti-Flag would expect, the band shares their philosophy and political slant both via their lyrics and by addressing the audience between songs. Whether you agree with them or not, it’s hard to not respect AF for their bold stance. This is a band who has never backed down from what they believe is right. They put the same power and integrity into their acoustic performance that they apply to everything else they do. Live Acoustic at 11th Street Records is an interesting side road on the Anti-Flag journey, and a fun, compelling listen that shows another side of one of punk’s most consistent bands.
Reviewed by Jim 1340