SAN FRANCISCO — Laura Jane Grace and Against Me! drummer and producer Marc Hudson brought their intimate side project The Devouring Mothers to Bottom of the Hill Sunday night with a performance that at times resembled short stories more than a concert.
The concert included songs from Laura Jane Grace and the Devouring Mothers’ 2018 album, Bought to Rot, and was unapologetically confessional.
“We are gonna play our whole album but in a different order” Laura Jane Grace said before strumming the chords to “Manic Depression.” She and Hudson, who played bass, followed that up with a cover of The Mountain Goats’ “Dilaudid” and two songs she said were about her experiences living in hotels: “Amsterdam Hotel Room” and “The Hotel Song.”
Although the songs had a punk inclination, their folky sound twisted away from Against Me!’s character.
“Learn to trust yourself, no one else matters, respect the source and always welcome failure,” Grace said before beginning “China Beach.” The band followed that with “Born in Black” and “Conceptual Paths.” Following Against Me!’s “Ache With Me,” Laura Jane Grace and the band played a series of Bought to Rot cuts: “The Apology Song,” “The Acid Test Song,” “The Airplane Song” and “Screamy Dreamy.” These songs were looser and more melodically poppy immediacy.
After a cover of The Replacements’ “Androgynous,” the band played “I Hate Chicago,” “The Friendship Song,” “Amputations,” “Valeria Golino,” “Reality Bites” and “Apocalypse Now (& Later).”
The encore included Against Me!’s “Cavalier Eternal” and “Two Coffins,” as well as a cover of Camper Van Beethoven’s “Take the Skinheads Bowling” and Against Me!’s “True Trans Soul Rebel.”
New Jersey punk quartet Mercy Union, with Jared Hart of The Scandals on vocals and rhythm guitar and The Gaslight Anthem drummer Benny Horowitz preceded the headliners with a set of blending punk, folk and a bit of Americana from their 2018 album, The Quarry.
Mercy Union opened with “Young Dionysians,” which had a ’90s sound, full of clingy guitar riffs and fast-paced drums. “Totem” from Hart’s solo project, was softer but still spotlighted his wrenching voice. Other songs included “Silver Dollars,” a cover of Strike Anywhere’s “Infrared,” dreamy cuts like “Baggy” and the jangly “The Quarry” and “Chips and Vics.”
Philadelphia post-punk trio Control Top, with singer-bassist Ali Carter, drummer Alex Lichtenauer and guitarist Al Creedon, opened the concert and blended diverse influences. The band hit fast and hard; an example of organized chaos, with songs from its forthcoming album, Covert Contracts:
“Type A” opened with distorted bass lines and Carter wildly screaming alongside new wave rhythms. “Chain Reaction” had Creedon’s sharp siren-like guitar and Lichtenauer’s hardcore drumming. Other songs like “Unapologetic,” “Office Rage,” “Traffic” and “Black Hole” had a more punk rock style with fast guitars and screamed vocals.
Follow photographer Joaquin Cabello at Instagram.com/joaquinxcabello.