joshthevegan: (Hank)

Wednesday October 19 was overcast with a light mist in the air as [ profile] veganjill and I headed into the City of Brotherly Love. We spent the afternoon wandering down South Street, patronizing the various quaint little stores, and stopping for a drink here and there at a few of the many bars. We met up with [ profile] jesskathand and her husband for dinner at Blackbird Pizzeria, an all vegan establishment where we had several different types of fantastic pizza topped with Daiya. It was quite a unique atmosphere, having a great dinner while listening to the classic hardcore punk playing, and the experience was particularly memorable since I had the chance to meet Pat Thetic (the drummer for Anti-Flag who happens to be vegan) as he was stopping in for dinner before the show.

After dinner, we headed around the corner to the Theater of the Living Arts. This was only my second time at this mainstay of the Philadelphia music scene, and I had nearly forgotten how great of a venue it is. It doesn't matter where you stand in this place, be it on the huge, open floor, or up in the 21+ balcony area, you have clear sight of the stage. The sound is fantastic no matter where you are, which is one thing that can certainly not be said for The Electric Factory (the 21+ section wraps around in front of one of the huge speakers, making it incredibly uncomfortable at times).

After The Holy Mess started things off in with energetic, barroom-type punk, relative newcomers to the Fat Wreck Chords family Old Man Markley took the stage. I was curious to see how a punk rock audience would take to these folks, since they play an interesting blend of bluegrass with punk mentality. Punk audiences have a reputation for being very narrow-minded, but that stereotype was proven false that night. The fans were incredibly receptive, dancing and slamming to OMM's super fast picking, strumming and stomping. Amidst a set of infectious originals, they played the b-side to their first 7", which is a cover of Screeching Weasel's "Science of Myth".

The next band to take the stage was Pittsburgh's Anti-Flag, a band that is always relevant, but feels particularly so right now with progressive protests popping up all around the nation. As always, Justin Sane, Chris #2 and company worked the crowd into a frenzy with their anthems of unity (and even worked in that cover of The Clash they've been doing for a little while now), but undoubtedly the best moment of their set (if not the whole show) was when Pat Thetic set up his drum set in the crowd and played from there to finish their last song, something he's been doing for this past tour

That made two incredibly tough sets to follow, but NoFX rose to the challenge. One would think that after nearly 30 years of taking this act on the road, the songs and on-stage banter would sound tired and hackneyed, but that was certainly not the case that night. Whether they were playing a relatively new song, a long-standing crowd favorite, or even an obscure track from a seriously out of print 7", they performed with gusto and the crowd ate it all up. These four guys certainly show no signs of slowing down in their older age.

The encore of "Doornails" featuring members of Old Man Markley was a surprisingly poignant touch for a band best known for their irreverence and goofiness. They have another tour already in the works for early 2012 that will feature NoFX and Old Man Markley every night and a rotating cast of punk all-stars to back them up (No Use For A Name, Pulley, Lagwagon, etc.). If you missed them this time around, don't be a fool and catch them on that tour.
joshthevegan: (screamy)

Marking their 25th Anniversary as a band, "Coaster" is the 11th release by punk rock legends NOFX. The title is a cheeky reference to the direction the music industry is taking where compact discs are becoming obsolete and not much good to many people except as something to rest your drink on.

I must admit I was excited at the beginning of this month when I found out that in addition to Anti-Flag, Rancid, Bob Dylan, Green Day and many other bands that I enjoy, NOFX would have a new album to kick this summer off. I rushed to the record store right after work and picked up my copy for a steal: $8.

Over the last couple of years and albums, NOFX has embraced their old age, alcoholism and "career" as a punk band and renderred songs on these subjects that range from hilarious ("60%," "Mattersville," "Theme From A NOFX Album") to bland ("Wolves In Wolves Clothing.") "Coaster" is no different, and fans will find few surprises within it's twelve tracks. "First Call" is a festive celebration of the morning after being no reason to stop the party, "Best God In Show" mocks the simple mentality of blind faith in religion, "The Agony Of Victory" is yet another send up of the band's ever-growing age; all firmiliar subjects, packed with a few new twists on the jokes.

As a complete product, the album is enjoyable, though not remarkable. The instrumentation is very good, as would be expected, the production is clear, though not slick (which is definitely on purpose, as the band thanks many early punk bands by name in the liner notes as inspiration over the years) and the songs are catchy without being too bubble gum-y. As far as NOFX albums go, it won't go down in history as ground breaking by anyone's standards, but I'm sure they didn't intend it to. NOFX has not been a band seeking to expand its audience beyond the core that's already on board, and so "Coaster" is not a failure at all, it is just another chapter in the story of an aging punk band.

Coaster - 7 out of 10.

September 2014



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