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Indie to Icon: An evening with Laura Jane Grace, Thelma and the Sleaze, and Dikembe

Updated: Mar 8

Laura Jane Grace

As my calendar flipped to March 3rd, signaling a tentative shift towards warmer weather in Ohio, the streets of Columbus buzzed with anticipation. At Kemba Live, Nestled next to the A&R Bar, a contrasting scene unfolded: on one side, the youthful crowd queued eagerly for TikTok sensation Ricky Montgomery; on the other, a diverse assembly gathered in anticipation of a different kind of spectacle. As I approached the venue, the contrast between the two audiences became starkly apparent. In Ricky's line, youthful exuberance mingled with parental supervision, while in the queue for Laura Jane Grace's performance, a tapestry of individuality unfolded before me. Among the eclectic gathering were those adorned with vibrant hair hues, vintage punk attire, and contemporary androgynous styles – a vibrant reflection of the diverse fan base Laura Jane Grace attracts. This was my community, my tribe. The A&R Bar, a familiar haunt for diverse musical experiences from Bayside to Muse, pulsed with the electric energy that Laura Jane Grace brings to the stage. Accompanied by Indie Rockers Dikembe and the attention grabbing Thelma and the Sleaze, this warm night in March promised nothing short of a transformative journey through sound, spirit, and a whole 'lotta love.

When Dikembe Took Hold


Checking in from Gainesville, Florida, Dikembe took to the stage with a presence that belied their humble origins. There was an undeniable sense of familiarity to their sound, yet it resonated with a depth and nuance that defied categorization. Moody and somber, their music wove a tapestry of reflection and sorrow, underscored by a welcoming wall of sound that enveloped the eager crowd. At times reminding me of the likes of Jawbreaker and Modest Mouse, Dikembe's four-piece lineup delivered a performance that captivated from the first note. As they unleashed their set, it became evident that this was no ordinary opening act; they commanded attention with a magnetic force, holding the crowd in rapt attention until they were ready to release their grip. Beyond their musical skill, what truly set Dikembe apart was their genuine warmth and hospitality. After the show, as I purchased a record, I found myself engaged in conversation with the band members, who exuded kindness and approachability. Their genuine demeanor and openness to their fans forged an instant connection, leaving me not just a satisfied spectator, but a newfound admirer of their artistry and ethos.

Thelma and the Sleaze Bring the Dirtiest Noise - In a Good Way

Thelma and the Sleaze

Hailing from the vibrant and historic music scene of Nashville, Tennessee, Thelma and the Sleaze brought a raw and unapologetic energy to the stage that resonated with the spirit of true rock and roll. Their performance felt like a testament to their relentless dedication to their craft, showcasing impressive skill sets on every instrument. From the moment they launched into their set, it was clear that Thelma and the Sleaze were here to tell their stories, unfiltered and uncompromising. Their music was a relentless onslaught of passion and emotion, delving fearlessly into themes of love, lust, and the human experience. As I spoke to their drummer, who introduced

themselves as Pigpen, I told them that I found myself captivated by their ability to not just keep the beat, but to put on a show in its own right. Pigpen smiled the biggest they could and asserted "hair is an instrument" in their eyes. Personally, As the set drew to a close, I couldn't help but hope for the day when Thelma and the Sleaze would take their rightful place as headliners, eager to witness the full extent of their raw talent and electrifying stage presence on a larger scale.

Laura Jane Grace - A Familar Face, A New Sound

Laura Jane Grace

As Laura Jane Grace prepared to take the stage, the already packed crowd seemed to swell with anticipation - eager to witness the punk rock icon in action. The tour, in support of her latest album, drew fans from all corners, spilling out onto the adjacent smoking patio in hopes of catching a glimpse of the revered musician. As she launched into the opening chords of "Punk Rock in Basements," it felt like a rallying cry, a declaration of a seasoned artist reflecting on her journey and questioning the very essence of the scene that defined her. From the first note, Laura Jane Grace commanded the attention and adoration of her audience, delivering a performance brimming with raw energy and emotion. Her new album was met with fervent enthusiasm, as the crowd eagerly embraced this new chapter in her storied career. Yet, amidst the excitement of the new, she didn't forget the classics that endeared her to fans long ago. Playing songs that spanned across albums from Against Me!, LJG and the Devouring Mothers, as well as songs from her new project - Laura Jane Grace and the Mississippi Medicals, the evening ebbed and flowed on the LJG spectrum. Joined by her new wife, Paris Campbell Grace, along with familiar faces Mikey Erg and Matt Patton, the performance felt like a joyous celebration of unity in a world fraught with uncertainty. As the night drew to a close, it was clear that Laura Jane Grace's legacy as a trailblazer in punk rock would endure, a beacon of resilience and authenticity in an ever-evolving landscape. Long live Laura Jane Grace, and may her music continue to inspire and uplift for generations to come.





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