Concerts

The Studio at Warehouse Live Sets Perfect Scene for Laura Jane Grace & The Devouring Mothers

Marc Jacob Hudson (left), Atom Willard (center) and Laura Jane Grace (right) of The Devouring Mothers
Marc Jacob Hudson (left), Atom Willard (center) and Laura Jane Grace (right) of The Devouring Mothers Photo by Matthew Keever
Laura Jane Grace & The Devouring Mothers
The Studio at Warehouse Live
March 16, 2019

"All trips come to an end," Laura Jane Grace sang during "The Airplane Song." "Some of them never begin."

Grace's journey has had at least two beginnings: One in 1997 when she formed the punk rock band Against Me! and another in 2012 when she came out as a transgender woman. Will The Devouring Mothers be a third? Time will tell, but Grace didn't seem too concerned about it.

"This thing," she said, gesturing toward her bandmates onstage, "started because we were having fun."

That fun was on display Saturday night in The Studio at Warehouse Live, where Grace, drummer Atom Willard and bassist/longtime Against Me! sound engineer Marc Jacob Hudson took a handful of Houston fans on a no-frills journey through the frontwoman's headspace.

On tour in support of their debut album, Bought to Rot, The Devouring Mothers focused on material from their latest record while making time for a few deep cuts, a handful of covers and "one of the most-hated Against Me! songs."

It was an evening tailor-made for hardcore fans, stripped down to the bones and unadorned by any embellishments. The Studio felt less like a music venue and more like a friend's garage - a comfortable place for close friends and family to gather for a good time and even better tunes.

Grace expressed her insecurity and feelings of displacement on "The Apology Song," which was dedicated to her daughter; she sang of turning her shame into her empowerment on "Reality Bites"; and she spoke of her own mental struggles on "Manic Depression." But these themes belied the positive energy that resonated through The Studio, where fans were linked arm in arm, hands raised high in solidarity with Grace.

Between "Ache With Me" and "The Apology Song," Grace told the crowd, "I'm someone who often feels like I don't belong." And before she could utter another word, a fan screamed "You belong here!" as the crowd roared its approval. "Thank you, Houston," she said, her head down, her hair partially hiding her smile.

For as bleak as many of Grace's songs may seem at the outset, most of them possess an underlying motif of perseverance and faith. She spoke of hopefulness Saturday night, sharing an anecdote with the crowd relating the ides of March to Little Caesars and laughing about the pyramids of Giza being reduced to a backdrop for a Red Hot Chili Peppers' concert.

"You never know how things are going to play out, and I personally find comfort in that," Grace told the crowd. "For years, as a closeted trans person, I never could have imagined myself standing in a room, being open and singing some of these songs, but you just never know how it's going to play out.

"So please, even during really dark times, keep hope. Keep faith."

And with that, Grace began performing "True Trans Soul Rebel," one of the most brutally honest songs she has ever written. "Does God bless your transexual heart?" she asked herself during the chorus, her gravelly vocals supported by the chorus of fans who were singing along in unison, asking a question that we've all asked ourselves at one point or another:

"Who's gonna' take you home tonight?"

SET LIST
Amputations
Apocalypse Now (& Later)
The Friendship Song
Amsterdam Hotel Room
Ache With Me
The Apology Song
The Acid Test Song
The Airplane Song
The Hotel Song
Androgynous (The Replacements cover)
Screamy Dreamy
China Beach
Dilaudid (The Mountain Goats cover)
Amy AKA Spent Gladiator 1 (The Mountain Goats cover)
Born In Black
Reality Bites
I Hate Chicago
Valeria Golino
Manic Depression
ENCORE
Mexico (Cake cover)
Two Coffins
True Trans Soul Rebel
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Matt is a regular contributor to the Houston Press’ music section. He graduated from the University of Houston with a degree in print journalism and global business. Matt first began writing for the Press as an intern, having accidentally sent his resume to the publication's music editor instead of the news chief. After half a decade of attending concerts and interviewing musicians, he has credited this fortuitous mistake to divine intervention.
Contact: Matthew Keever