Against Me! Brings ‘True Trans Soul Rebel’ to Mr. Smalls; Stage AE Hosts Slayer, Anthrax and Death Angel (Thurs., 9/15/16)

1) In 2014, Against Me! had one of the year’s most lauded albums. It’s been a long journey. From 1997 to 2007, their band name was one of many you might spy buttoned to a young punk’s high school backpack. Then it seemed like the band peaked with their 2007 album New Wave, produced by Butch Vig (Garbage, Nirvana’s Nevermind) and ranked by Spin as album of the year. White Crosses came next, in 2010, also produced by Vig. In 2012, singer/guitarist Tom Gabel revealed her lifelong struggle with gender dysphoria and that she would henceforth be Laura Jane Grace. She channeled her dysphoria (along with some power chords) into Transgender Dysphoria Blues—a triumph and arguably the band’s best album since they formed in 1997 in Gainesville, Florida. The punk quartet now play Mr. Smalls the day before the release date of their seventh studio album, Shape Shift with Me. Potty Mouth and Frameworks open. 8 p.m. 400 Lincoln Ave., Millvale. (CM)

2) Kick off your loafers and don your steel-toed boots; armor up and get ready to mosh—a triple threat of metal is coming to Stage AE. Headlining is Slayer, whose heavy guitar riffs and intense vocals make for a night of serious headbanging. An inspiration to bands like Slipknot, System of a Down, and Lamb of God, Slayer has been rockin’ out since the early ’80s and is considered by many to be a major influence in the death metal subculture. We’re bound to hear some older material, like “Seasons in the Abyss” and maybe even “Bloodline” as well as new material from 2015’s Repentless. (Two music videos from that album will be adapted into comic books by Dark Horse Comics this year.) Also on the bill are contemporaries Anthrax. Their newest album is this year’s For All Kings and they have a comic book connection, too. Renowned comic artist Alex Ross, who’s done the artwork for several Anthrax albums, designed the cover of For All Kings. Opening is Death Angel, another band formed in the early ‘80s. However, a tour bus accident in 1990 left Death Angel’s drummer in recovery for over a year, and vocalist Mark Osegueda left the group shortly after, leaving the band defunct by 1991. They regrouped a decade later and continue to perform and record music, like this year’s The Evil Divide. Doors open 6:30 p.m. 400 North Shore Dr., North Shore.  (RH,CM)

3) Larry Gelbart, best known as creator and lead writer of the classic TV series “M*A*S*H,” wrote a late-life stage comedy shortly before his death in 2009. The play is called Better Late and South Park Theatre is doing it here. Better Late (co-authored by dramatist Craig Wright) is a serio-farcical riff on the intertwined subjects of aging, art, and love. The key characters are an elderly composer; his wife, a once-glamorous actress; and the wife’s cantankerous ex. When the ex suffers a stroke, wife persuades current hubby to let the guy move in with them while he recuperates, whereupon much tension and laughter ensue. Better Late premiered in 2008 at the Chicago area’s Northlight Theatre, where it was praised for its comic energy and zingy one-liners. The local production is at the corner of Brownsville and Wooded Gap Roads, South Park Township. 7:30 p.m. Continues through Saturday. (MV)


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Rick Handler

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