Anti-Flag, one of the nation's most prominent political punk bands, is playing in the Valley on Sunday, January 4, but it's far from an ordinary show.
The concert will be one of a handful of tour dates in which the band plays their 2003 release, The Terror State, in its entirety to celebrate its (belated) 10-year anniversary.
According to Anti-Flag's bassist, Chris "#2" Barker, the anniversary is more for the situation of which the Pittsburgh band wrote their fourth album about than the record itself.
"It's more of a political anniversary," Barker says. "It seemed as if there was a fervor of political movement after September 11th. It felt like the world was all coming together and embracing each other, but then it was all torn apart by going to war after September 11th. The Terror State was about coming to terms with the attacks, but not by dropping bombs on everyone."
Barker points out that despite the changes in political offices and policies, the world is still in a similar spot to where it was over a decade ago. That said, he knows that if the world is going to change, it has to be caused by the general public.
"It's not the presidents or the popes or the prime ministers who are going to change history," Barker says. "It's the actual people in the cities and towns that need to be the ones to change history."
Aside from the strong political message of The Terror State, Barker believes it was a pivotal moment for Anti-Flag as a band, as the record marked a number of firsts for the quartet.
"It was when the corner turned for Anti-Flag, and we finally realized what we wanted to sound like," Barker says. "We worked with Tom Morello as a producer on it, and it was our first time working with a big name. He was always challenging us to do a bit more than we'd done in the past."
Sunday's show takes place at the Nile Theater in Mesa. Considering Mesa's reputation of being one of the most conservative cities not just in the state, but in the entire country, it seemed odd that Anti-Flag would choose Mesa for one of its anniversary tour dates.
"Mesa is a town that's been good to us over the years," Barker says. "It was one of the first places where we were really received well in America back when The Terror State first came out, so it was more about the personal connection to Anti-Flag. I don't know if any of the people who went to that show are still around, but Mesa's always been good to Anti-Flag."
For Anti-Flag, the concerts are more about the crowd than the band. Barker believes that Anti-Flag shows are a safe place for anyone and everyone, regardless of race, gender, sexual orientation, or just about anything else, which may make it more fitting to hold the concert in a conservative area like Mesa.
"We try to make our shows a place of solace for people. Male or female, big or small, straight or gay, we want you to feel welcome there," Barker says. "If we see a fight in the crowd or anything like that, we'll stop playing until they either kiss and make up or get taken out of the crowd.
"There are a lot of places where we can' be ourselves, whether it's the dinner table, school, work, wherever," Barker says. "We want to give everyone a place to come out and be themselves."
Tickets cost $18 early or $20 at the door and are available at the Nile Theater's box office or on the Nile Theater website.
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