A few months ago, when NOFX announced a tour coming through New York City, I decided that it might be a fun trip down nostalgia lane. It had been at least eight years since the last time I’d seen them, and almost 14 years since I’d first heard “Liza and Louise” and “Don’t Call Me White” on the first edition of Epitaph’s Punk-O-Rama series.
While I’d moved on from them a few years back (Pump up the Valuum made me need a Valium), I’ve respected what they’ve done over the past five or six years. Unlike Propagandhi, who have holed themselves up in some Canadian cave singing songs about American corruption, or jerk-offs in NY throwing donuts at cops, Mike and company put up their own money for the Rock Against Bush series and truly galvanized an entire league of people to get involved in politics. So needless to say, I was interested to see what kind of things they would be saying a few weeks before the election.
Anyways, this was a horrible decision, and last night was one of the worst shows I’ve ever been to, even worse than the Thermals.
Thursday’s show was the second of two sold-out NYC shows on the tour, and it started out with the Flatliners. Despite being part of a relatively solid Fat Wreck lineup, I’d never listened to these guys for more than one or two songs. After seeing them live, my mind hasn’t changed too much as they (along with labelmates the Loved Ones) play a truly uninspired, flat, paint-by-numbers version of punk rock that I would’ve probably loved at 16, but couldn’t sit through more than one song when I could be at the bar drinking a $17 beer.
The Flatliners didn’t do much for the crowd, of whom 95% were there to see NOFX and maybe 5% for Dillinger Four. Their set seemed to go on way too long for an opening band and I think most of the crowd seemed to agree.
Next up was Dillinger Four. Despite owning most of those Fat comps in the `90s, and enjoying their set at the Fuck Yeah Fest in 2005, I’ve never picked up one of their records (I don’t steal music) and I don’t know their catalog all too well. I saw them a couple months ago opening up for the Circle Jerks and had a great time. Not so much this time. The band seemed off…lost voices, horrible sound, stage banter that went nowhere and a crowd that was only interested in seeing NOFX.
Highlight of their show: Paddy announcing to the crowd that (and this is a paraphrase) “For those of you who don’t know us, we have this thing that if you really like our song, instead of clapping, our fans just chant 'NOFX!' after we finish.” Each song thereafter finished with a “NOFX” chant.
To finish off the night, up came NOFX. I don’t know where to begin. So I’ll begin with the crowd, which was a mix of punk guys, hardcore guys, frat guys, preppy guys, hippie guys and guys that looked like they just left the gym. Maybe you’ve noticed the common denominator: penis. I was there with my fiancée and she was one of maybe 40 females in attendance. Testosterone levels were at an all-time high, and I grew up in L.A. in the `90s going to Pennywise shows. I’m a very peaceful person and I found myself having to get into different fights defending my fiancée, one with a guy in a polo shirt and sweater around his neck who repeatedly pushed her (she’s about 5’ 3", 100 lbs) with fists in the back, and once to a dude with camo shorts and hockey pucks in his ear who purposely elbowed her in the face.
Intolerance was also beyond belief; after “Kill All the White Man” I actually heard somebody yell, “Kill all the white man? Why don’t we kill some niggers you fag?” It was like the message of anti-racism or anti neo-con belief systems was lost on a crowd of goons where were more interested in running around and pouncing on people than enjoying the show. And, I have to say, I spent a good part of my life in the mosh pit, and at most shows I have no problem with it, but at this show it seemed like these guys just wanted to smash some heads in. Sadly, songs like “Drugs Are Good,” “Lousie,” “ I Wanna Be an Alcoholic” and “Bottles to the Ground” were more exciting to the crowd than “Eat the Meek,” “Perfect Government” or “Leaving Jesusland.”
Believe it or not, the crowd wasn’t as bad as the show put on by the band. The set list, which was apparently completely different than the night before, consisted of a bunch of throwaway tracks (“See Her Pee,” “Fuck the Kids”) and a bunch of other songs that nobody seemed to care about. No “The Brews.” No “Bob.” No “Moron Bros” or “Beer Bong.” In fact, in nearly an hour and a half on stage, I’d be surprised if they played more than 20 songs, and half of those songs were under a minute long.
Mike was drunk enough to fall into the crowd and forget the words to at least four songs, which is fine until you think about the fact that the guy’s in his 40s and married with a kid. You could tell they didn’t want to be there. You could tell they were just going through the motions.
I left a NOFX show feeling sad. That shouldn’t happen.