Last night No Age entered into a very special category as I saw them for the third time, tying the duo with Sonic Youth for the (real) band I’ve seen live the most. Of the three times I’ve seen them, it was indeed the most intense, the most dangerous, and the most insane. While the sound wasn’t as good as it was at Sasquatch, the experience was truly punk and truly No Age.
Before the show, I met some friends from George Mason at Ben’s Chili Bowl a few blocks away for some amazing chili. So good. Also, where else can you eat chili with pictures of Dr. Dre, NFL Hall of Famers, famous politicians, and other assorted celebrities on the wall? Not many. I’d definitely recommend it to anyone in the neighborhood.
We made our way over to Black Cat where were got places in the second row right in the center for the first opener of the night, Trophy Wife. The female duo from Philly played a set of songs I couldn’t quite place. On the one hand, it sounded like early Sonic Youth, but on the other hand, it wasn’t so sophisticated that it couldn’t come out of a teenager’s basement. Either way, Trophy Wife entertained and bantered back and forth with the amiable crowd, throwing down a thrash worthy set.
Holy Fuck came up next and absolutely blew me away. I honestly have never seen so much gear on stage at one time. Countless keyboards, pedals, lights, and things I’d never seen before. Through the first few songs, the band sounded like a darker Javelin that you don’t want to bring home to mom and dad. But as the set wore on, that became less and less accurate. Finally, with about four songs left in the set, Holy Fuck broke out one of the funkiest songs I have ever heard, with a legitimately funk bassline underneath layers and layers of synths that had the entire venue moving back and forth. It was an eye opening experience, especially with the Greg Kinnear look-a-like next to me that had had “about five or six beers” and was holding two Holy Fuck vinyls. He enjoyed himself much like the rest of the venue.
Then No Age. I managed to acquire a spot right in the middle on the stage, which in hindsight probably wasn’t the best idea, but it made for a great experience. The band opened with “Life Prowler,” the opening track off of September 28’s Everything in Between and one of my favorite tracks. This showcased the first downside to being right in front, as all of the noise-based songs like “Life Prowler” and later “Glitter” became muddled in vibrations and miscellaneous noise, making the vocals nearly indistinguishable.
From “Life Prowler,” the band went into “Sleeper Hold,” “Teen Creeps,” and “You’re A Target.” At one point during these longs, guitarist Randy Randall walked to the front of the stage right in front of me, during which all hell broke loose. I became closely acquainted with the most antagonistic audience member ever, who was forcibly trying to remove me from my spot on the stage. I simply slid over to a spot vacated by a fleeing photographer. I can just really chalk it all up to being an experience.
The set went on with songs like “Fever Dreaming,” “Depletion,” “Losing Feeling,” and “Glitter,” and the audience never lost its intensity, even though, according to my friends, some people in the mosh pit decided to fight each other instead of dancing. But every song No Age played was tight, and even with the aforementioned sound issues, each song came through to me and drummer Dean Spunt was awesome to watch. At the end of the set, Randall just went crazy, dismantling his guitar on stage before handing it off to the excited throng of fanboys in the front who held on for dear life before passing it back up. The band came back for an encore where Randall kicked his microphone stand into the crowd (and onto my head) and the craziness continued. But as quickly as the rush came, it was gone. At the end of the set, everyone looked around, exchanged smiles and laughs at the intensity, and went their separate ways.
I went to the merch table and acquired the trademark white shirt with rainbow lettering along with a free sticker and took stock of the fact that my upper jaw, right elbow, left bicep, right thigh, and left knee were all throbbing uncontrollably. But for seeing No Age for the third time and experiencing the new songs off of Everything in Between, it was totally worth it.