The last time I saw NOFX, it was another two-show mini-residency at Toronto's unfortunately named Kool Haus and they opened the first show with "The Decline." First song.
As far as I could tell, it was only the third time they had played it in its entirety to an audience (the first two being at Slim's in San Fransico, just before that tour), so word hadn't gotten around that it was even a possibility. It was a more macabre experience than you might imagine, as seeing NOFX play "The Decline," especially when not expected, can result in making people's heads explode. I personally saw three explode that evening. I have the stained T-shirt to prove it. But I digress...
After that, NOFX had much to live up to, but inviting along the mighty Dillinger Four was a step in the right direction. I didn't get there on time to see the opening acts, or the always exuberant Flatliners.
It's been eight years since Dillinger Four toured to Toronto, the last time being behind Versus God on a tour opening for Against All Authority. This is something not lost on them as Paddy mentioned it both times, when not expounding on all things sexy -- which he did, at great length, and hilariously. They played the same tight set both nights (understandable for their lack of extensive touring), which was peppered with standout tracks from the new C I V I L W A R, like "Gainsville" and "Minimum Wage Is a Gateway Drug." The strangest thing was that the crowd seemed to know the new songs just as well as some of the older material like "Doublewhiskeycokenoice." Curious!
They played for around 45 minutes and left the stage announcing, "We've been Fucked Up, thank you," and "We've been Brutal Knights, thank you," respectively.
After the show on night two, D4 also played a drunken "secret" show at Toronto's Punk Bar of choice, Sneaky Dee's (where the nachos are tasty and the snobbery is free). Reportedly, they played a longer, sloppier set, where Paddy took an electric razor on stage, taking clumps out of his hair and beard every couple of songs, 'till he was bald and clean shaven. What a showman.
Take each album from their long and storied career and put them on shuffle, and you more or less have an idea of NOFX's set lists the past few visits. When a band is not touring behind an album, more often than not they give a "Greatest Hits"-type selection. NOFX clearly have a wealth of material, but apart from songs that videos were made for ("Bob," "Stickin' in My Eye," "Franco Un-American," etc.), they don't really have clearly defined "hits" or "favorites." Where one fan might consider "No Fun in Fundamentalism" or "The Brews" to be hits, others might not. So needless to say, the song selection is very random, the only constants being "Intro" to start and "Theme Song from a NOFX Show" (with a super extended accordion outro) to end. While it doesn't seem as cohesive or paced as other bands, it's never ever predictable.
As always, the stage banter was top notch. Topics ranged from their last album ("which IS a good record!" Mike was keen to point out), to Barack Obama's upcoming presidency, to Eric Melvin's drug use, to even how Punknews.org would review the show, in contrast with Mike's own "B-" grade of the show.
Also of note was the announcement that "NOFX Backstage Passport" would be getting the George & Wheezy treatment by getting its very own spinoff, starring Nubs (a.k.a. Tally), the Torontonian that was immortalized in War on Errorism's "She's Nubs." The show is in production now, and was being filmed at the venue for inclusion in the show. The highlight of the second show was when they decided to make a dream come true by giving Tally her first ever stage dive. Fat Mike first warned the crowd, "If one of you drops her, the show is fucking over," then went into "She's Nubs" and when it kicked in, Limo picked her up and threw her into the excited crowd to big cheers (and thankfully, no droppings).
So, there were no exploding heads time, but there was tossing of a limbless person, women getting turned on en masse to Paddy's naked torso, Eric Melvin inexplicably leaving the stage for a whole song and a wide variety of good tunes, and really, what more can you ask for?