FAT Wreck Chords tour featuring NOFX
In true Reading for New Times style, I decided that the next destination on my tour of all things good would be the Calgary stop for the Fat Wreck Chords tour. Why punk rock? Hasn't this been done before? Do these guys still have a message? Where is the danger? Honestly, I don't know but what I do know is that going to a punk show is something that should be done by everyone at least once in their lives. You know you are in for something special when desperate fans looking for tickets to this sold out event start doing war whoops when said prized tickets are finally in their hands. This is the type of energy that kicked off the night at University of Calgary's Macewan Hall. Hanging out pre show, you get a chance to survey the crowd a bit and my, my my how times have changed. Looking at these kids, you can definitely see the 80's styles and influence on fashions, hairstyles and appearance in general. The skinny jeans, the Chuck Taylor Converses and the hoodie seemingly are the new ensemble of choice. As we approached the gate, about 3 or 4 fans were hammering back Budweisers with a trail of empties behind them and told the security that I was Montreal mafia and not to let me in. Yeah, this was going to be an eventful night.
Oakland California based American Steel took the stage in true punk rock fashion about 20 minutes late and kicked off their set with a track I previewed pre show called Sons of Avarice. The song has an aggressive frenetic Celtic sound however the rest their set was a little too new wavish, a little too Killers-esque for me. The group had disbanded in 2001 and reunited in 2007 to record a new album called Destroy Their Future. I personally think the album has an identity crisis but for an opening act, they sounded ok and got what little crowd that had amassed into it. I am not sure anyone rushed over to their merchandise table and loaded up on goodies after the set, but they were a good way to kick off the night.
Touring and promoting a new album, San Jose, California based No Use for a Name played a short but high energy set. I had a chance to sit down with lead singer Tony Sly and bass player Matt Riddle before the show and have a chat about the new record titled The Feel Good Record of the Year. With evidence of their trademark melodic vocals, this record has all the aspects of what a diverse punk rock album should have, from aggressive fast paced songs like the Biggest Lie down to camp fire acoustic tracks like Kill the Rich. In talking about the album and the tour, there was a hint of frustration that was punctuated when I asked about touring with the label bosses, NOFX. They said the best thing about it was that they were able to bitch to Mike about things like album sales and tours which was a good thing otherwise they would be just another horse in the FAT Wreck Chords stable vying for label attention. I also had a chance to ask Matt and Tony about the Warped Tour lineup and why their name wasn't on the list this year. They felt that the tour had become a bit too commercialized and that the current lineup didn't really appeal to fans that would be interested in seeing and buying No Use For a Name albums. As for on the road vices, the only thing these two were owning up to were a few drinks post show. Their dialogue with the crowd during their set left a bit to be desired especially with the amount of pushing they did for the new album, but with only 40 minutes to make an impression, I thought that No Use for a Name did an great job and would recommend checking them out. Look for them in New Zealand and Australia touring with Strung Out in July and hopefully back in North America touring in the fall.
The last act of the night was NOFX who took the stage like a bunch of hoodlums (the lead singer announced he was drinking milk and vodka) and proceeded to hammer their set out. Notorious for being belligerent and snotty potty mouths who slide one good show in for every three, they started off with the track Dinosaurs Will Die which at the time of recording was a very good prediction about the current state of the music industry. There is nothing taboo at a NOFX show especially the words and contents that spew out of lead singer Fat Mike (Michael Burkett) mouth. Topics like drug use, homosexuality, frustrations against organized religion along with political commentary are just a few of the things to expect to hear from this San Francisco based quartet. NOFX did their usual taunting of the crowd, picking on Calgarians and Albertans in general for having oil wealth and stating that Alberta was like the Texas of Canada. Easily the highlight of the set was the tour de force rendition of "The Decline", which is one of the best punk songs ever recorded in this writers opinion. The rest of the set was sonically outstanding, until one jackass from the crowd fired a full water bottle at the lead singer which rightfully so pissed the band off and in my mind ended a positive set on a sour note. Other highlights from NOFX were "Leaving Jesusland" along with "Seeing Double at the Triple Rock", "Linoleum" and "Eat the Meek", which has an outstanding trumpet intro with a dub-reggae organ laced that builds into the typical pop punk sound that is NOFX. There was also an interesting interlude where Fat Mike made a comment about the number of bearded people that were in the audience and then proceeded to offer one guy 200 bucks to shave his beard during the show. The guy accepted and after a quick song, was funneled on the stage where the band proceeded to chop up his facial hair with scissors and trimmers. He left the stage with a huge smile and went right back into the middle of the pit to continue enjoying the show from its most ahem 'aggressive' vantage points.
Leaving the show, there were a ton of discarded items pitched from the pit into the security area and on stage by overzealous fans and I got to return some of these items back to the people that lost them. No matter their condition( drunk, exhausted or bloodied), they were thankful to have their shoes, hats or hoodies returned. I was on that side once and I appreciate the dedication these fans put in. They are the reason that these bands continue to tour and make shows like this so much fun to be a part of.
- FAT Wreck Chords tour featuring NOFX
- by Adrian Bryksa
- Published on June 6th, 2008
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