NOFX Ruined Last Night's Punk Show at House of Blues
Punk rock is an unusual genre. Punk shows can be exhilarating, enthralling, chaotic, confrontational and offensive. Last night at the House of Blues, it was all of those and less.
I've been going to see punk bands for more than three decades and I thought I had just about seen and heard it all. Then I was exposed to Fat Mike, singing bassist for L.A.'s legendary punk outfit NOFX. These guys have been going at it since 1983 and they have made some decent money and some decent music along the way, but last night they were the antithesis of punk. NOFX have become a caricature of a punk band. Perhaps they have been that all along. Now, it's Fat Mike with his silly blue Mohawk shouting at some guy in the balcony, calling him a "fucking faggot" who was acting like a "prison pussy." As I was being tortured by NOFX, I thanked the punk gods for opening bands. All three, on this particular evening, saved the show.
Was this what punk rock has become? I was reminded of that horrible Mott the Hoople album, the one made after Ian Hunter had left the band. It was called Shouting and Pointing and that was NOFX last night. It was Fat Mike and crew playing some decent songs and then berating some guy for being Filipino, or as Fat Mike put it, "not a real Asian."
Shock value has always been and will always be, I hope, a calling card of punk, but this was something different. This was frat boys playing punk rockers, guys in their mid-40s playing out every sadly dated gay reference with idiotic glee. "We are not a peaceful band," said Fat Mike to the well inebriated throng. The response was tepid, almost nonexistent. It was like a punk band fronted by Rush Limbaugh, only worse, if such is imaginable.
Then, thankfully, Fat Mike would shut the hell up and NOFX would rip through "72 Hookers" or "Murder the Government," songs that pulsed with a punk spirit that harkened back to seminal hardcore acts such as Black Flag and Fear. But the songs were even surface punk. They were mean-spirited attacks without merit or intelligence. They reminded me of a seventh grader regurgitating the politics of his father or grandfather, shit he would later condemn if he had only gone to college.
First up, early on at 7:30 was Implants, a great, if horribly named outfit from Southern California consisting of members from such acts as Strung Out, Pulley, Ten Foot Pole and Death by Stereo. These guys were all right, playing meticulous and intricate metallic punk that featured shout-along choruses and not a single homophobic shout-out.