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By Alex Gallagher | September 10, 2021

Pittsburgh-based punk rockers Anti-Flag are continuing their crusade for social justice with a September 23 show at the Rebel Lounge.

Anti-Flag was hot off the release of its 21st full-length album, titled “2020 Vision,” and a tour supporting the album when “the world shut down,” as the band’s bassist and vocalist Chris Barker says.

Now that the album has had time to age, Barker, who is also known by the stage name of Chris #2, is excited to play songs that Anti-Flag couldn’t play on its brief 2020 tour.

“I’m looking forward to playing some songs that we never got to play off of ‘2020 Vision,’ because we only got to play a few shows and then the world shut down,” he says.

Beyond playing songs like “You Make Me Sick” and “The Disease,” along with other hits, Barker is looking forward to encouraging audiences to fight for social justice and creating a safe space for fans of all walks of life.

“We go into every show with the idea that everyone is going to at least leave with the core ideals and beliefs as a band,” Barker says. “If fans take away anything from our show, it is that there is a band that exists in this world that stands against bigotry, fascism and war for corporate empire. If we don’t let anyone know that is what’s happening, that is a failure.”

While he knows that alleviating negative emotions can spur forms of aggression, he hopes that an Anti-Flag concert serves more as a celebration and congregation of people invested in helping others.

“Though there is a lot of anger and frustration, I feel that our shows are a celebration of finding our people and carrying the energy in that room outside and extrapolating it into everyday life,” Barker says.

Aside from building a community at the show, Barker hopes to keep fans safe from the Delta variant and out of genuine concern for all fans in attendance.

“We don’t ever want to put anyone in our community in harm’s way,” he says. “That’s why you’ve seen punk rock be at the forefront of anti-racist movements, anti-sexist movements, the battle against homophobia, etc.”

Aside from keeping fans physically safe, he makes it a point to let the audience know it is OK to be their genuine selves while attending an Anti-Flag show.

“Generally, our show begins with us saying our show is a safe space,” he says. “We have microphones, amplification and powerful voices, which we use to extrapolate on the ideas of the song further.”

Barker has experienced a mix of emotions leading up to the tour, which begins on the September 14 and includes the stop at the Rebel Lounge on September 23.

“I’m excited for the hour long we’ll get to play music despite that all the things in between are frightening and scary,” he says. “It feels good to kind of be let off the leash, but at the same time, we’re going to try our best to make sure everybody is safe.

“Making records and writing music is cool, and I did a lot of it during the pandemic, but it’s not fulfilling. I play music for human interaction and searching for that solace.”

Music won’t be the only thing that audiences can indulge in as vendors like PM Press, which is described as “an independent, radical publisher of books and media to educate and inspire, will be there.

Fans can also have their cheeks swabbed by the nonprofit Punk Rock Saves Lives to find out if they are bone marrow donors.

Though Anti-Flag is the headline act, Barker and co. are excited to learn from the younger bands accompanying the tour and encourage fans to catch opening acts Dog Party, Grumpster and Oxymorons.

“We’re grateful that these bands are willing to go on the road with old dogs like us,” he says with a laugh. “I’m grateful for all the things we will learn from touring with all the bands on both legs of the tour.”

Anti-Flag w/Dog Party, Grumpster and Oxymorons

When: 7 p.m. Thursday, September 23

Where: The Rebel Lounge, 2303 E. Indian School Road, Phoenix

Cost: $20 to $25

Info: anti-flag.com or therebellounge.com

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