It seems that my experience seeing the Loved Ones, the Lawrence Arms and NOFX is one shared by fans all across the country: The bands were amazing, and the NOFX fans tried their hardest to ruin everyone else’s time.
The Nation in D.C. is an enormous place. My wife and I were standing in the room with the merchandise when we heard the Loved Ones begin. Apparently, shows at the Nation start on time, not something I’m used to. They started off with “Suture Self” off of their recent Fat Wreck debut, Keep Your Heart. For the first song or two, no one was moving. Dave Hause was interacting with the crowd, trying to get them into it. The problem was that a legion of NOFX fans showed up early and planted themselves in the front, resolved to insult the other bands (and their fans), stand completely still and boo anyone on stage that was not NOFX.
That didn’t matter. Those of us there for the opening acts got the crowd moving, and by the end of the Loved Ones' set, I was sweaty and sore from being beaten and shoved around, like you’re supposed to be at a good show. Hause mocked the kids up front, one of whom thought it proper to announce his hatred for the act of reading. Hause also mocked the security guards relentlessly.
The Loved Ones tore through “100K,” “Chicken,” “Jane,” “Hurry Up and Wait,” “Please Be Here,” “Living Will (Get You Dead),” and “The Sickening” among others (I’m pretty sure they played “Benson and Hedges”). I know they didn’t play “The Odds” or “Player Hater Anthem,” because that would’ve made me ecstatic. The band was seriously amazing. I had wondered how they would duplicate their sound live, since there are so many layers of guitars on the album, but it sounds even tighter, louder and catchier live. They closed their set with “Candy Cane.”
Then, the Lawrence Arms came out. From the audience, Chris was on the left, Brendan on the right. Chris’s shirt read “Hoof!,” and Brendan’s read “Hearted!” They launched into their set immediately, and barely took time to breathe. Normally, their shows are full of jokes, but they seemed to be less talk, more rock that night.
When the Lawrence Arms played Cleveland last Spring, it was gloriously sloppy. Most of the set, Brendan strummed every string on the bass. It didn’t sound too good, but it was amazing. In D.C. last week, they were ON. This was one of the tightest shows I think I’ve seen a band play.
They blasted through “Turnstyles,” “100 Resolutions,” “Quincentuple Your Money,” “On With the Show,” “The Devil’s Takin' Names,” “Cut It Up,” “Great Lakes / Great Escapes,” “Presenting the Dancing Machine” and a few more I can’t remember. When they came to “Porno and Snuff Films,” Brendan introduced it by saying “If any of you know one song by us, it’s probably this one!” They ended the show with “Necrotism,” and left me drooling at the thought of seeing them again on March 8th.
Then, NOFX. I’ll be honest: I didn’t really care to see them by this point in the show. I don’t mind people insulting bands. I’d be a hypocrite if I did. But there’s something that really bothers me when people who don’t like the opening acts act amazed that other people are there to see them. If you get there early to secure a spot at the barrier for the main act, accept the fact that there will be people excited to see the openers. At least expect that the openers will play.
Ranting aside, NOFX played a good set. I’m not familiar with their entire catalog, but I recognized quite a few songs. If I recall correctly, they played “I Wanna Be an Alcoholic” before launching into “The Decline” with an “If you’re not familiar with our stuff, you’re going to be bored for the next 18 minutes!”
They did a good job with “Soul Doubt,” “Stickin’ in My Eye,” “Linoleum,” “Perfect Government” and “There’s No Fun in Fundamentalism.” They even played a song about D.C. that they had “written that day,” which clearly means “We wrote the music a while ago and Fat Mike changes the lyrics for each town we play in.” The song is hilarious though, as it was basically Fat Mike saying D.C.’s great, but “California has better cocaine.” The songs sounded great, but they talked too much between. Also, for anyone wondering, they did break out the trumpet on a handful of songs.
The only thing that bothered me about their set is that, in contrast to all of Fat Mike’s progressive politics, lyrics and involvement in Punkvoter, El Hefe still made quite a few close-minded jokes that a junior high schooler would make.
All in all, this is still one of the best shows I’ve been to. Anyone who missed it, you really did miss something wonderful.