Last Night: NOFX at Warehouse Live

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NOFX Warehouse Live February 26, 2008

Better Than: Drawing up cool Barack Obama signs for your Super Tuesday rally. Seriously, “Barack the Vote”? How about “Barack You Like a Hurricane”?

Download: The ever-topical and notoriously long-winded “The Decline,” their 18-minute state-of-the-union punk address from 1999. It just keeps getting more prophetic each time you turn on the evening news. Also, seek out that split record they did with Rancid. They cover each other’s songs, and it’s a quite the thrill to hear the stalwart punks sing on tracks like “Don’t Call Me White.”

As we drove past the line to get in for last night’s NOFX concert, I felt a strange sensation. No, it wasn’t the opiates stolen from Grandma kicking in. Or the can of tuna I had before the show deciding it was time to let the dogs out. It was the sense of age that washed over me and the passengers in the car, like a cold Gulf wave on a simmering summer afternoon.

NOFX has been playing the part of punk-rock jesters since before that red-headed chick from Paramore was even born. In fact, they released “Liberal Animation” in 1988, long before some of the Jonas Brothers could even pee standing up. Since 1983, “Fat Mike” Burkett, Eric Melvin and Erik Sandin have been dishing out slabs of pop-punk that ending up inadvertently informing that same genre for the next two decades.

Photos by Craig Hlavaty

For anyone who came up in the Houston-area punk scene in those years, Tuesday’s show was something akin to a family reunion. Hell, the Hates even played the afterparty. Old friends from pits past shared war stories of shows at places like the Vatican, Instant Karma and the International Ballroom. Scene vets spoke of the NOFX show upstairs at Fitzgerald’s when over 1,000 punks almost made the floor cave in. People in their mid-20s thought fondly back to the band’s 1998 Warped Tour appearance when Fat Mike, in outright disgust of the then-Astroarena’s sound-system quality, dumped cash on the sweaty crowd as a refund.

It’s been said that each generation gets the NOFX they deserve, be it the scatological musings of certified genre classics like 1994’s Punk in Drublic or 2003’s deeply political The War on Errorism. Last night, they ran the entire gamut with a set list that satisfied the salty greybeards and the tweeners that just tuned in; a cover of Rancid’s “Radio” from the bands’ split 2002 LP was a welcome surprise. The material from the newest record, Wolves in Wolves Clothing stood out as noticeably more metallic, especially on tracks like “Seeing Double at the Triple Rock.”

My best memory from this show will be the sight of a graying man of almost 35, in a faded Black Flag shirt and cut-off shorts jumping head first into the pit. That sight almost made me mist up. NOFX is now my little subculture’s Eagles, a nostalgia act that reminds us of simpler days. And that makes me happy.

Critic’s Notebook

Personal Bias: I’ve been hearing these same tracks since Bill Clinton’s first administration, in cramped smelly bedrooms and sitting next to make-shift skate ramps. It’s like folk music for us 9-to-5 community-college types. Wow, that was a low blow, man.

Random Detail: All of us old balding punk dudes should really hit the gym. Happy hour and marriage have been brutal. And not that kind of “brutal”. I saw you wheezing in the pit, broseph.

By the Way: Mohawks and liberty spikes are a young man’s game. Cherish your hair while you have it, young men and ladies. For one day, it may be gone. – Craig Hlavaty

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