February 15th, 2009
Words and images by Brian Moss
Soda can pot pipes and Safeway parking lot skate sessions.
Oh, where does the time go?
This month, longstanding California punks NOFX
celebrate 25 years of existence. Alas, it doesn't seem like that long ago that I was sitting under the high school bleachers with an awkward crew of confused alt-rockers, stoners, and theater dorks blasting "Don't Call Me White". At its core, NOFX is a terminally juvenile band. While it can border on obnoxious, there's a time and a place for potty humor punk, even if our desires for it subside after the age of 17.
When dwelling on the band, a twist on Matthew McConaughey's immortal line from Dazed and Confused
comes to mind: "They keep getting older, but their fans stay the same age."
The band's sound--which is steeped in ultra-nasal vocals, often formulaic pop punk, a sardonic attitude, and lowbrow anecdotes--has enticed adolescents for decades and left a staggering amount of imitators in its tracks. However, there have also been a few exceptions to NOFX's dumb fun and chuckles. The group's later catalog displays increased musical and lyrical complexity, including tracks that push a witty political stance. Fat Mike, who spearheaded S.F. based label Fat Wreck Chords, also formed the anti-Bush regime inspired Punk Voter coalition; he has effectively rallied and organized youth awareness about the importance of political action. Furthermore, credit is due to the band for becoming one of the most successful non-major label punk acts in history.
As was to be expected, last night's show was full on brodeo - packed with backwards ball capped, no-necked, punk-curious, fraternityites in triple XL band garb. There were a good fifteen to twenty dudes to every girl - a total cock farm indeed.
Turbonegra, an all female Turbonegro tribute band, opened the show and helped to balance out the gender ratio with hilarity and balls that would've undoubtedly made their Norwegian brethren proud. Next up, Youth Brigade executed the old and new in style. (After hearing them, I've made the resolution to start skating again).
But the night really belonged to NOFX.
The band brought back old members to play select songs from various eras, and chronologically worked its way through the years. At times, the set felt more like a standup comedy event than a show. The jokes flowed, and despite Fat Mike's voice sounding haggard after a week of back-to-back performances, the band simply killed it. Once El Jefe hit the stage, all thoughts of criticism departed.
Of course, the bloodied Tool Academy runner ups in the pit were distracting, but god damn, this band performed well, painful reggae break downs and all.
Sure, there's something a little bit embarrassing about watching a bunch of grown ass men act like fucked up adolescents while playing novelty numbers, but to reference another quote, this time around one from a good friend, "If I suddenly wake up at 35 and don't think farts are funny anymore, just go ahead and shoot me."
Even during my formative-years phase of pop-punk obsession, I never fell head over heels for the whole NOFX thing.
Dear Neolithic Meathead, please come to my house with lots of Coors Light and a positive 'tude. I'll make you a mid to late nineties Lookout Records
mix that'll open up the window to your soul.By the way:
I have no idea how the cocktail waitresses at Slim's maintain patience and composure on a night such as this. Good job, y'all.