Against Me! played 91X's "Nightmare Before Xmas" concert at Cox Arena. Uniformed Marines were at the December 9 show to collect donations for the Toys for Tots campaign.
"[Against Me! front man Tom Gabel] told the audience that if they had known that the Marine Corps was sponsoring the show, they never would have played," says a concert attendee. "[Gabel] said that they did not want anyone to buy their merchandise because the venue was forwarding some of what they got to the Marines." (Venues typically collect between 10 and 15 percent of sales from bands who peddle T-shirts, jackets, and caps.)
Neither Against Me's record-label publicist nor the band's management company commented on the statements made by Gabel.
91X program director Phil Manning, who made the decision to have the band appear, says Against Me! was "uninformed" about where proceeds from their merchandise sales go -- that no money at all went to the Marines.
"The band's management could have told us up front if they had a problem [with the presence of uniformed Marines]," says Manning. "We could have made other arrangements."
Manning says the outburst was "immature.... I think they could have taken a cue from Green Day as to how to push their agenda like [Green Day] did with their American Idiot record.... A few people lashed out at the radio station. Because it was our show, a couple military wives came up to our 'street team' and told us their husbands were in the military and they thought it was disrespectful."
A concert attendee says Gabel did have a valid political point to make because the Marines were there as much to recruit as they were to collect toys.
"Certainly they were recruiting," says Manning. "Just as they use video games to recruit, they have figured out a way to tap into the youth market."