NO AGE @ GLOB | 8/28/13 When No Age kicked into "Fever Dreaming," during a show that had already maintained a hyperkinetic momentum from jump, the title of the song was such a metaphor for the entire performance that you had to wonder if its placement was intentional. The song brought out an even more inspirationally frantic level of energy from Dean Spunt and Randy Randall. The whole thing sounded like My Bloody Valentine sped up and set on fire.
With the screaming sampled sound and the guitar, which appeared looped using reverse reverb like MBV does, the tune was further propelled by Spunt's controlled but always powerful and fluid drumming and Randall's fretwork; the latter has a knack for firing off riffs as though he's machine-gunning out sounds that are not entirely in his control, and he's compelled to strum with a manic but precise repetitive rhythm -- all while making it exciting rather than seem repetitive in a negative sense.
No Age played songs from all of its albums including "Every Artist Needs a Tragedy" from Weirdo Rippers, "Eraser" from Nouns, the aforementioned "Fever Dreaming" from Everything In Between and even "You're a Target" from the Losing Feeling EP.
Maybe these guys just updated the sound of this stuff, or perhaps it always had a heady and raw feel to it, but all in all, it sounded fresh, like they wrote the songs a few months ago and are still very excited about playing the music. Newer songs or not, Spunt and Randall put everything into the show, and some of the new songs gave the guys just a bit of breathing room to pace themselves ever so slightly.
For the An Object song "I Won't Be Your Generator," Spunt picked up the bass with big letters spelling out the Bad Brains maxim of "PMA" at the top base of the instrument. It still had gritty guitar sounds but floated with a dreaminess amid dense rhythms. The sculpted, melodic feedback that Randall controlled like a master was more obvious live than on the album.
The whole show was a beautiful thing but "I Won't Be Your Generator" had some of the most conventionally beautiful music out of the bunch. This is no knock on the song; it was just a welcome break from the pure onslaught of rock and roll -- same with "A Ceiling Dreams Of A Floor," which followed. No Age is no stranger to a dreamy side to its songwriting, but with those two songs, it was more explicit and provided an extended passage of soothing sounds.
"Defector/Ed" brought things back to more outright rocking with what felt like a suspended crescendo, like it was headed somewhere with intention, an intention that saw fruition with the gloriously cutting sounds of "Glitter" and its return to a relentless pace. After "Miner," No Age asked the audience if it wanted one more song, and it didn't take much convincing.
This is when Randall started playing the familiar opening to Black Flag's classic "Six Pack" -- clearly a nod to L.A.'s premier and arguably earliest proponents of DIY touring and culture, not just in California but across the country, making valid a way to play music and establish cultural beachheads, where there were once backwaters in so many places, or in places where one had to be established on someone else's terms.
At some point, Randall gave a shout out to Denver and to Monkey Mania, the semi-legendary DIY space of the late '90s and through the late first decade of the 2000s. These guys may be connected to that whole DIY circuit that basically started with Black Flag and has continued through to today, but it didn't lean on that connection so much with the show as much as it focused on providing the kind of performance and music that cuts through standard expectations and inspires people to move.
Yes, this meant Spunt's ride cymbal kept getting knocked over. Oh, absolutely someone or three seemed to be flung forward into the drum set or knocking over Randall's mic or turning off a pedal or three. But people also righted the cymbal, including yours truly, and stood the mic stand back up and generally watched out for the band -- and for each other -- and if that isn't a beautiful thing in this all-too-jaded age, nothing is.
The opening band of the night was Homebody, a three piece consisting of School Knights alumni Michael Stein and Morris Kolontyrsky, both on guitar and vocals, and Carson Pelo of the Kevin Costner Suicide Pact on drums -- an instrument he hasn't played much since his old band Fellow Citizens broke up a couple of years back. It was the band's first show, and if there was any nervousness involved on the part of Stein, who cites No Age as one of his favorite bands of the current era, it wasn't obvious.
Stein and Kolontyrsky had a Television-esque synchronicity with each other as guitarists with fluid and interlocking streams of arpeggiated melodies. With Pelo's instinctive sense keeping a suitable, steady rhythm with perfect accented flourishes, it felt like a jazzy math rock band, not necessarily in the same way as Hella, but more like a clear influence of the band Women, whose wiry guitar interplay had narrative quality to it that was an ideal backdrop and augmentation of Stein's and Kolontyrsky's words.
It's safe to say no one was expecting Elk, the band formerly known as the Doug Mioducki Experience (or Wilderness Experience or whatever absurd name of the moment), at least not an angular noise rock band with songs that seemed to start and stop on a dime like some kind of free jazz thing without playing free jazz sounds.
Doug Mioducki, formerly of Felt Pilotes and Witch Doctor, played his guitar like he was getting it to make textures as much as tones, and he sounded like little else, except for maybe This Heat or Henry Cow in an odd moment. Singer Tripp Wallin was in full drag regalia, curly blonde wig and lion belt buckle and all. Darren Kulback, formerly of Hot White, played the off kilter drum style required by this music, but it also means it's a little difficult to get too bored as a drummer playing straight ahead beats. His former Hot White bandmate, bassist Tiana Bernard, also kept a drifting fluidity with passages of driving, giving the music an unpredictable and serpentine pattern of momentum.
Protect Me was a two piece from the San Fernando Valley in California. People that call this band punk have probably not heard Krautrock or the weirder end of late '70s post-punk. It was a band with a drummer/vocalist and a guy that played bass through effects, synthesizer and who sang as well.
Between them, there was a rhythmic style that was reminiscent of something more industrial in the sense of early Cabaret Voltaire, if that could even be referred to in such a manner except that that band might be considered "proto-industrial." The altered voices also gave that impression as well.
For one song one heard shades of Savage Republic circa "Real Men" -- abrasive, grinding yet otherworldly, which also recalled the first handful of Chrome albums or at least that music. The final song was not some mutant rock piece but more a textured soundscaping number and maybe left some people wondering what they just saw and others hoping for more of the weird stuff from an already very unconventional band.
No Age Glob - 8/28/13 Denver, CO
01. Circling With Dizzy 02. Lock Box 03. You're a Target 04. Teen Creeps 05. Every Artist Needs a Tragedy 06. I Won't Be Your Generator 07. A Ceiling Dreams of a Floor 08. Defector/Ed 09. Glitter 10. Eraser 11. C'mon Stimming 12. Ripped Knees 13. Fever Dreaming 14. Boy Void 15. Miner 16. Six Pack [Black Flag cover]
Personal Bias: I've been a big fan of No Age's difficult to classify brand of punk and of that band's perhaps sentimental attachment to Denver's DIY scene going back to the days of Monkey Mania. Random Detail: Ran into nerd blogger Laura Keeney, Testosterone Tuesdays co-host Stella Montoya, Radio 1190 Local Shakedown host Amy Moore-Shipley and Ben Kennedy formerly of Crack Magick and of Andrew WK cover band Party Hard at the show. By the Way: Warren Bedell (aka DJ No Funeral), one of the founders of Rhinoceropolis, deejayed the night and played a great variety of music from silly but good hip-hop stuff to death metal to Butthole Surfers, to name a few, before the show, between sets and after No Age finished its set.