Live Review, 1/20/12: NOFX Shoots Tequila, Covers Rancid, and Gets Serious For a Moment at the Fillmore
Richard Haick NOFX at the Fillmore on Friday.
No Use for A Name
Old Man Markley
Jan. 20, 2012
Better than: Hanging out with loud, drunk 45-year-olds who aren't members of NOFX.
When lifelong NOFX enthusiasts are in the mood to jump around, shove each other, drink beer, jump around more, spill beer on each other, shove each other some more, then throw beer at NOFX, very few things will stop them -- including but not limited to a torrential, freezing downpour. If anything, the weather system set the tone for the evening, in that staying dry didn't appear to be a major priority for a single person inside the Fillmore on Friday night.
"So can someone bring us some tequila? What the fuck is going on here?" barked Fat Mike, Noe Valley resident and Fat Wreck Chords godfather extraordinaire, his big green mohawk showing signs of fatigue not halfway through an 80-minute set. Tequila shots were obtained, distributed onstage, and taken, followed by almost unanimous grimaces and belches.
"Tequila heartburn. That's what happens in your forties, okay?" he explained before launching into the drug-love ditty "Herojuana," off 2000's Pump Up the Valium. The song's sneered chorus -- "Are we men/ Are we children/ At what age can I choose how to live?" -- serves as a handy cheat sheet to the almost 30-year-old band's take on itself at this point in the game.
Equal parts famous for their anti-major-label stance, their willingness to piss off any and everyone, and their unfailing enthusiasm for drugs and alcohol -- not to mention the whole anti-Bush Punk Voter tour/phase circa 2004 -- the members of NOFX managed somewhere along the line to become one of the most cheerfully, drunkenly innocuous punk rock bands in existence. There's still some smart anti-establishment politics in their writing; if you didn't grow up reading their liner notes, you'd be hard-pressed to find them from behind the wall of weed and butt jokes. They'd make a great kids' birthday party band, if your kids happen to be 30-something dudes with potbellies and tattoos.
There were times on Friday when they appeared to have captured the hearts of the entire sold-out crowd -- which was not, to be fair, entirely comprised of said potbellied dudes. If there was any doubt about the endurance of "Linoleum" as an anthem, it was assuaged when El Hefe (still the most technically impressive member of the band) launched into the song's opening guitar riff, and at the edge of the mosh pit, a gawky kid with braces and a grey-haired gentlemen launched their fists into the air in almost perfect unison, gleeful grins spreading across their faces.
Other tender moments: A slowed-down sing-along cover of Rancid's "Radio," an energetic rendition of the now-even-more-pointed-than-when-it-was-written music industry take-down "Dinosaurs Will Die," Eric Melvin's entirely competent accordion solo on the "Theme From a NOFX Album" outro, Fat Mike looking forward to his great seats at the Niners game on Sunday (sigh).
But the most genuine sentiment of the evening was marked by Fat Mike announcing "Okay, I'm gonna say one genuine thing now," before rambling through a thank-you to everyone for coming to see them after 29 years, and then somehow slipping in the also genuine-sounding concession that "We're not as good as Bad Religion."
Gauging by the crowd's response (aggressively intoxicated yelling from every sweat-, beer- and/or rain-soaked person in the building), not everyone agreed. Or they did, but they were thinking, "Yeah, but you guys are probably happier drunks." Either way, as stormy Friday nights go, it had been a pretty good party.
By the way: The house was just as packed for a 13-song set by San Jose's own No Use for A Name, which promised a new album sometime in early 2012.
Quote of the Night: "If you're gonna throw things, throw them at the Jew, not the Mexican!" - Fat Mike