All entries for Sunday 04 November 2007

November 04, 2007

NOFX:3rd November Birmingham–Carling Academy

    Think of the bands that rose to popularity and achieved significant success with the explosion of pop-punk rock in the 90s. Now think of those of them that are still respected within punk circles. You'd be lucky if you could count them on your fingers and get past your first hand. And thats not the only problem. The reason that the musical genre of punk has been forced to reinvent itself these past few years is that even these bands, such as Pennywise, Rancid and NoFx, have simply not released anything near their best work in 6 years. And tonight, sadly, does nothing to make you forget that fact.

   Tat kick the night off, and already it is painfully obvious how tired the music tonight sounds. Frontwoman Tatiana DeMaria does a remarkable job in attempting to grab the attention of those that have come just for the ska-punk headliners, but ultimately they play Green Day-lite when what this night sorely needs is a Distillers-like dose of balls.

   Next up is The Loved Ones. With a name that seems to have nothing to do with the fun-loving nature of NoFX, no one could reasonably expect anything other than a mixed response. And so it is that the crowd mostly seem to accept the earnest pop-punk being passionately forced upon them,and the rest take up their beers with venom and hurl the glasses at all bandmembers. Even the drummer gets hit. With such a ludicrous reaction from their audience, The Loved Ones hold their own and take on the disbelievers with a smile. Its unfortunate, then, that their material is so bland, a second-rate Hot Water Music for those that still think that melodic punk is a novelty.

    And so it is that NoFX take the stage. With ten studio albums under their belt and the pure love of a hysteric audience that grew up listening to their music, they have nothing to prove. What puts such a dampener on the evening is the painful fact that the band themselves know this, and do so little to make this feel like a special event. Their opening gambit pays off fantastically well: unusually for NoFX, as Fat Mike states, they do not say a word before launching into what remains one of their very best songs, Dinosaurs Will Die. Unforunately, it soon becomes clear that this is the sort of assault that everyone wants, but will not get. True to their reputation, NoFX keep the level of banter high, infusing the evening with a dose of humour, but in the end it proves to be their undoing. Their wisecracking is restricted to being simply offensive (calling Scotland a nation of deformed people in particular shows a wit that does not do justice to their many fans here tonight), and talking about a)the other shows they are going to play b)how they will refuse to play Don't Call Me White and c) how badly they are playing despite dispensing no energy through the set just comes off as being...well, arrogant. Hardly in keeping with the values of punk rock.

   It is time that the bands that knew such success in the 90s stop taking things for granted and start conquering crowds all over again. For NoFX to say that they will not play the same songs they played when they were last at Birmingham is one thing. But walking off with no encore and without having played Stickin' in My Eye, Champs Elysees and Kill All The White Man is something else alltogether: self-importance. Taking into consideration that the fun you will get out of seeing NoFX is derived completely from the fans, screaming their lives out at Bob and stage-diving before a single note is played, you realise that not only have NoFX not produced a memorable album since Pump up the Valuum, they are taking a dedicated fan base for granted.

   In their most well-known song, Bob had fifteen years of drinking before his liver exploded. In two days, it will have been fifteen years since album White Trash, Two Heebs and a Bean, and it has become all too clear that what has truly been destroyed is all sense of NoFx's fun and vitality.


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