I've been battling some of the worst sickness in memorable years for the last couple days. My throat started swelling unexpectedly at Wednesday night's Twins game, and thrashing about with Fucked Up and openers Bring That Shit later in the evening probably didn't help. By Thursday morning I was barely able to breathe, and as I'm typing this it hasn't gotten a whole lot better. But even though I felt like crap, I decided there was no way I could miss World/Inferno Friendship Society.
I showed up right at 10:00 because I hadn't pre-ordered tickets and wanted to get there before it sold out as I was sure it would. Well, it turns out I was wrong. While there was a decent amount on the dancefloor, the Triple Rock was only about half-full. WTF, people? World/Inferno Friendship Society on a Saturday night in Spring…what more could you ask for?
So getting there early, I sat and read The Onion for awhile before two girls and a guy took the stage and started screeching out some toe-tapping pop-punk. They were pretty competent in their songwriting, but not in their timekeeping, playing about five songs too many and getting cut off by the sound guy so the next band could set up and we could hopefully wrap things up by 2:00 a.m.
Easy Action eventually followed, and in all honesty I simply did not dig whatever they were trying to do. It was essentially just loud rock that occasionally had some kick to it, but all it did was make me wish I were at home in bed with my cough drops and orange juice.
After a rather quick setup for an act of such grandeur, World/Inferno Friendship Society emerged and the confetti began to fly. The crowd was a curious collection of individuals, not easy to pin down to one musical clique. There weren't many stereotypical punks, nor was there a glut of hipsters. Surprisingly, there did seem to be a healthy amount of ska kids, drawn in by the Society's sax-y arrangements and throwback appeal. Frontman Jack Terricloth is, in my opinion, the most talented inter-song banterer in punk. Wittier than Fat Mike and and far less obnoxious than Guttermouth, he can add a punchline to any anecdote or observation, and degrade himself without losing his class and charisma. He talked for a moment about how he loved the Minneapolis crust scene, but the Minneapolis crust scene didn't love him back, noting Profane Existence and Slug & Lettuce zines (which he holds a subscription for) that called World/Inferno Friendship Society "a waste of vinyl." In one segue, he whipped out a Casualties reference of "spikey hair drunk punks" from their anthem "For the Punx" (which I'm sure went over 90% of the crowd's heads) and followed up by dedicating the next song to Jake (Kolatis) and Meggers (Mark Eggers) and encouraging anyone who sees the Leftover Crack / Casualties tour of this summer to tell them "Hi" for him. When I was zoning out and watching some kids act goofy in the back during a crowd finger-snapping intro, he called me out from stage and told me to put my fingers together, to which I responded by "playing the world's smallest violin." He chuckled back that I was a smarter man than he, and all seemed to be forgiven for my lack of audience participation.
Meanwhile, the band offered up many of their back-catalog favorites in the form of "Brother of the Mayor of Bridgewater," "Jerusalem Boys" and "Fiend in Wien" alongside selections from their latest album that included "Cathy Catharine," "And Embarked on a Life of Poverty," "Thumb Cinema" and "M Is for Morphine." Call me a modernist, but I actually would have preferred to hear more of the new songs, or at least, different new songs. Cuts like "I Just Make Faces" and "With a Good Criminal Heart" are a bit more upbeat, and I'm supremely bummed they didn't play "Ich Erinnere Mich An Die Weimarer Republik." Still, they played a packed set and finished with an encore of "One for the Witches" and the timelessly beautiful "Only Anarchists Are Pretty."
I made it home around 2:30, sicker than ever and now exhausted beyond consciousness. But as Jack Terricloth implies, if you don't live recklessly, you're hardly living at all. And even though the next 10 hours were spent asleep, seeing World/Inferno Friendship Society was one of the most lively experiences in a long time.