Review: No Age, live.

No Age, 7th St. Entry, Mpls, MN, 11/23/10-One would imagine any proper review of a No Age live show would end with line like, "While it may lack the insert big word of your choosing and insert synonym for the exact same big word of its predecessors, make no mistake about it, this is the punk rock of today."  Whereas, this one will simply end accompanied by a photo of jean jacket with a embroidered kitten on the back.  But before I do that, I'd like to bitch about all the people on cell phones at the show. 

Arriving at the Entry shortly before the second of two opening acts began, I surveyed the crowd, as is my wont, to discover the average age, even for an 18+ show was older than expected.  And by older I still mean younger than me.  I should mention that as a dedicated follower of fashion I was surprised to see some folks are still doing the bandanna around the neck thing.  I'm fairly certain this is dead.  And if not, should be.  In fact, I'm now from this moment forward declaring it dead. 

Anyway, you know how when someone tells a ghost story around the campfire they have to do that flashlight under the chin thing?  Well that's what everyone's face looks like at shows these days because everyone stares at their phones non stop.  In fact, the guy next to me was Facebooking on his iPhone during the entire set.  I was so annoyed by this and appalled that he was not making any attempts to disguise such embarrassing behaviour, that I wanted to grab the tall motherfucker by the ear-mom style-and pull him down to me so I could remind him he was in fact at a show. 

Eventually No Age took the stage.  I can't believe I didn't notice this before but the drummer and primary vocalist, Dean Spunt looks and sounds remarkably similar to a young Mike D.  He and guitarist Randy Randall (and touring keyboard player) move effortlessly from new songs to old ones and back again.  On record, the new album Everything In Between is an obvious move into a more palatable direction, just as Nouns was from Weirdo Rippers, but when songs from all three are played interchangeable, the difference in virtually unnoticeable.  It's undeniably, well, No Age.  Whatever that means. 

I wanted to spit my gum in the hair of the next person I saw looking at their motherfucking phone!   

About three quarters through the set they threw in cover of BLACK FLAG'S  Six Pack and thankfully the crowd up front acted appropriately. Of course this moment couldn't go un-Tweeted or texted about, so several people began furiously typing on their phones.  Unbelievable!  You're at a real live show, with real live people, where a real live band is playing right in front of you, and playing Black Flag no less, and instead of choosing to actually experience it, you're...argh! 

It was at this point that I could take no more.  I grabbed a handful of ice from an empty in front of me and began throwing cubes at everyone who was staring at their phones.  In retrospect, I'm quite surprised at myself for doing this, as I was alone, and as much as I hate on stuff like this, rarely do I actually do something about it.  I think everyone got the point.

One should not be surprised by this digital connectivity of the No Age audience, as they are a band whose popularity is in large part due to internet chatter.  But still, they ARE a visceral band.  Quite frankly you're doing yourself and those around you a disservice if you're in the physical location in which it's happening and instead you're Tweeting or Facebooking about it rather than actually doing it.  Fuck, maybe this is the punk rock of today, after all.  That's kind of depressing.

For those of us that kept our phones in our pockets, well, we saw a really good show. (-NO'B)

And now, without further adieu...

No Age, 7th St. Entry, Mpls, MN, 11/23/10


Review: Crocodiles

Crocodiles-Sleep Forever-CD- Second go-around for these San Diegans.  Although a slight departure from the previous sort-of-brash and unfinished sound, it is still in line with the dark dream pop 80s meets double aughts bedroom dance resonating on Summer Of Hate. And while not as aural or loud an experience, comparisons to MY BLOODY VALENTINE would not be totally unwarranted.  As well, Sleep Forever fits perfectly alongside other new releases by lo-fi indie contemporaries NO AGE, JAPANTHER and label-mates WAVVES.  Yes, that means the target demographic is most likely the all-encompassing, yet somewhat off-putting H-word.  That is not to say that this is not a good record for old guys like myself, looking to stay relevant and keep abreast of the "new shit."  Of particular interest are the hazy semi-garage rocker, Billy Speed and the closer, All My Hate And My Hexes Are For You.  The latter--which consists primarily of the title being repeated about a million times over an LCD-type beat--is infectious in a simple kind of way, and in my humble opinion, one of the better songs to come out this year.  Pretty good for some dudes from the city whose name means "A Whale's Vagina."-'10, Fat Possum (-NO'B)


Review: Life Trap

LIFE TRAP-Solitary Confinement-E.P.-7inch-One of the better touring bands to play at Eclipse Records in the last couple years.  Hailing from Tennessee, these guys play ripping hardcore punk.  Like a tiny bit faster AMDI PETERSEN'S ARME' with vocals reminiscent of a slightly less snotty and certainly less irritating QUICNY PUNX.  Short, fast and loud, in the vein of, well, pretty much everyone that plays this stuff.  You know the drill: four dudes in jeans, sleeveless t-shirts and Vans set up on the floor in front of the stage and hammer it out for 15 minutes.  However, these guys stand apart from many of their peers, in that they are extremely tight and oozing genuine energy.  The lyrics--dripping with more f-bombs than an Eddie Murphy stand-up routine from the 80s--are that of the angered-and-disillusioned-bleak-societal-outlook variety, as evidenced by the title track, "The way my life is set up for me is like a fucking trap.  Made one too many mistakes; now there is no turning back.  Caught in fucking cage; my life is like a maze.  Now that I've got nothing to lose, somebody's going to pay."  Similar themes continue throughout, including on the closer, Wasteland, which one can only assume is about their hometown, Nashville, "Why can't you see you're just so full of shit?  Your life's so fucking plastic it makes me fucking sick.  Why can't you see I don't want to live here another day?  Why don't you just fucking go away?!"  Well dudes, although we have our fair share of plastic too, you can always come live here. And play lots of shows.  If records were meth hits, this would be the one that makes your teeth fall out.  A ripper indeed.-'08, No Way (-NO'B)


Review: Harry Balzagna & the Teenie Weenies

HARRY BALZAGNA & THE TEENIE WEENIES-Skate Army E.P.-7inch- I can't remember if I picked this one out of the West Coast Hardcore or Thrash box(Amoeba Records, L.A.)  Sounds like thrash but they appear to be from Costa Mesa, so I can't be sure.  Either way, that hardly matters now does it.  Crossover thrash ala MUNICIPAL WASTE or CROSS EXAMINATION but with less party & metal and more skate & punk.  Vocals reminiscent of the early DIOS MIO.  Very nicely printed sleeve with the standard old-school skate images; royal blue on white, with a shot of pink aerosol underneath for the D.I.Y. three-color win. The second to last song, Not My Kind Of Fun, is sort of a bummer.  "Was my youth a waste of time?  Cuz I didn't get wasted or fried?  Cuz I didn't find cheap romance or attend one school dance?  Did I miss out?"  Ah, I hate to say it man, but, uhm, well, YEAH!  Just what exactly were you doing?  They are redeemed though because they follow that song up with one about farting in class, called Breakin' Ass.  (Hey, that rhymes.)  Not sure if they are still a band.  If so, hopefully they have dropped the Harry Balzagna part of their name.  Wouldn't want them ending up in the Garage Rock box erroneously.  Seriously though; good shit.-'03, Snack Attack!/The World Is Square (-NO'B)