For a band that has made a name for themselves on avoiding anything and everything corporate in the music business – including refusing to let MTV air their music videos and avoiding major label contracts throughout their career – NOFX has created one helluva following! Consisting of bassist/frontman Fat Mike, guitarist Aaron “El Hefe” Abeyta, second guitarist Eric Melvin and drummer Erik Sandin, NOFX has made quite a name for themselves in the world of live shows, often treating concert goers to plenty of nice – and not so nice – surprises that go beyond simply playing their songs on stage. For one, they are well known for interacting with their crowd, even if it’s in the form of a good natured joke at their expense – but all in the name of punk rock!
I was lucky enough to catch the guys during their concert yesterday night at the Mayan Theater in LA. Now, I’ve seen my fair share of NOFX shows in my time and although I can safely say that for the most part they put on a great performance, it must be said that there have been instances where – although rare – the band was clearly not into it. Luckily though, last night was not the case as the guys straight out rocked it!
The hook for this particular show was the complete performance of the band’s third album, Ribbed, released back in 1991. While this album is not my personal favorite – which is a three way tie between Pump Up The Valuum, Punk in Drublic and White Trash, Two Heebs and a Bean – it’s certainly not their worst and actually fits quite well in a live, high energy rock show setting.
But before the guys went headlong into the show’s main event, the band opened up with a few fan favorites to get things started. After greeting the crowd and throwing in few jokes, NOFX ripped it up with a particularly frenzied performance of “60%” followed by other classics such as “Eat the Meek” along with one of my personal favorites, “Dinosaurs Will Die.” After eight or so of this random assortment of songs, NOFX delivered as promised: Ribbed through and through, from the intro “Green Corn” to the album’s closing track, “The Malachi Crunch.” They even brought up a member of Teenage Bottle Rocket – who performed earlier that night – to sing along with Fat Mike on the song “I Don't Want You Around.” It was pretty cool, but not a show stopper.
NOFX performing to a very enthusiastic crowd at the Mayan
Once the band closed out the album and they prepared to leave the stage, the expected encore kicked in and boy, did it deliver! They started off the encore with arguably their best song ever written, the signature “Stickin’ in My Eye” before finally ending the night with my personal favorite NOFX song of all time – “Linoleum.” As an aside, if you’ve never listened to NOFX and are looking for a fantastic ‘90s punk song, look no further than “Linoleum.” All in all, the band played 20 songs including 6 during the encore segment which added up to about an hour and a half on stage.
Performance-wise, the band was as tight as ever. If you’ve never seen NOFX live or at least caught a video of their performances, these guys aren’t your cookie cutter punk band. Their songs have as many vocal harmonies as a Beatles’ tune and as fast paced and dead on as anything from Metallica. Add that with plenty of frenetic jumping, running around and plenty of other onstage madness, you have one of the best punk rock shows in town! Seriously, sometimes I wonder if Erik Melvin is on crack! Not really, but he certainly rocked like he was full of energy, as did the rest of the band. Fat Mike was right on target with the bass and drummer Sandin never missed a beat – made all the more impressive when you consider how fast-paced he has to consistently play at for lengths at a time. Guitarists El Hefe and Eric Melvin were as masterful as ever and provided a perfect one-two punch of distorted guitars playing off each other to create a very intense and signature sound.
A slight word of caution to all of those sensitive readers out there who don’t want a side of political commentary with their punk rock, specifically of the liberal kind, as Fat Mike is not one to shy away from expressing his strong opinions (although chances are that if you’re the type of person who knows the band, it’s to be expected, welcomed even, especially when you consider such NOFX classics such as their homage to George W. entitled, “Idiot Son of an Asshole”). Last night’s segue into the political came in the form of an all too excited concert goer, specifically a ska kid wearing a bowler hat (think Charlie Chaplin, Clockwork Orange or just look it up) that Fat Mike confused for a turban. I’m not going to say that a bowler hat looks absolutely nothing like a turban but hey, those lights flashing at Mike’s face might have skewed his vision. What followed was a slight rant about radical Islam and the like. Fortunately, it didn’t last long and the crowd didn’t seem to mind it all that much. They were all too busy furiously moshing.
Besides the fluid intensity that was the band’s performance that night, I was treated to another show of sorts when I made my way to the rest rooms. Once there, I was met by the expected lengthy line along with a man relieving himself near the entrance of said facility while his buddy was on guard, graciously blocking our view. Once inside, I met yet another man who decided that the wait in front of him was a bit too long for his liking and preceded to “see a man about a horse” all over the sink. You’d at least figure he’d wash his hands seeing as how all the soap and water he could ever need was at arm’s reach. Once I finally made my way to the front of the line and entered the empty stall, that very familiar mix of Jack Daniels and vomit was there to greet me. Pretty much your classic punk rock show if I do say so myself.
Anyways, all in all, NOFX did not disappoint and if you have yet to catch these guys for one of their signature, energy-infused live shows, you’re missing out on a real treat – no dyed hair or Mohawk needed, although they are certainly welcomed – just leave that bowler hat at home! You can check out the entire set list including the encore down below:
Complete Set List:
Even more intense than the mosh pit: the traffic in Los Angeles.
We Called it America
Murder the Government
Dinosaurs Will Die
Seeing Double at the Triple Rock
Eat the Meek
*Beginning of Ribbed Album*
The Moron Brothers
Food, Sex & Ewe
Just The Flu
Cheese/Where's My Slice
Together On The Sand
I Don't Want You Around (one of Teenage Bottlerocket singers sang)
The Malachi Crunch
*Ending of Ribbed Album*
Stickin' in my Eye
I Believe in Goddess
Fuck the Kids