The Tivoli got a little messy last night, playing host to everyone’s favourite punk rock dads, NOFX. It wasn’t a packed house but the front was plenty lively all the same. The rest of us were called rich pussies for not joining in the mosh, which is probably fair enough, except for the rich part. But hey, getting bagged out is part of the fun of seeing NOFX. Frontman Fat Mike truthfully introduced the set by saying “we’re just gonna play some songs and talk shit about you all for the rest of the night,” and to our delight they did. However, at one point they stopped to thank the “other bands” that played – an impressively rousing Army of Champions and delinquent noisemakers The Bennies.
Of the set time – somewhere between an hour and an hour and a half – probably half of it was them having a laugh at someone’s expense, including their own. There were plenty of self-deprecating references to that beating incident in Sydney, and about being on TMZ. Local legends Frenzal Rhomb got called out for skipping Brisbane on the tour. Apparently they’re even doing Darwin. Jokes about the ethnicity of the security guards were uncomfortable but funny nonetheless. You take all the political incorrectness with a grain of salt when it comes to NOFX. Hell, if it was lacking – that would be a problem.
The band seemed to be having fun the whole night, which is totally infectious. During an impromptu Rolling Stones riff by guitarist El Hefe, “some say we’re the Rolling Stones of punk rock,” Fat Mike even pulled out a Jagger dance. In fact, Mike displayed a surprising amount of energy for a self-proclaimed washed up old rock star, and Hefe’s comical moves were a highlight. Rhythm guitarist Eric Melvin was there dutifully holding his side of the stage as always. Although, there was no roadie/keyboardist Limo, who apparently couldn’t get a visa. The guys threw around some surprisingly decent Aussie accents too, despite being told by drummer Smelly to stop talking and get on with it. Honestly though, it’s a good change of pace to see a band just mucking around and enjoying themselves, and at pub gigs it’s often an achievement just to be able to make out whatever little words are said. It also gives lets them have a breather, so when it came to official “break time” they only took a few minutes.
The set was a pretty comprehensive mix of NOFX history. I think the only records that didn’t get a look in were those prior to S&M Airlines, although Mike made up for the S&M part himself. It still amazes me that he manages to play in nipple clamps. They opened with their mission statement, 60%, and did the rounds with everything from the new, 72 Hookers, to the old, Perfect Government (a cover by one of Hefe’s old band mates). They played some treats like Herb Alpert instrumental What Now My Love, “here’s a song without any words,” and What’s the Matter With Parents Today?. “This is one of our best songs, I wrote it myself” Mike said before the band launched into their reggae version of Rancid’s Radio. Soon after they smashed through a bunch of their shorter songs, as they do, for an “11 songs in 10 minutes” medley, featuring everything from Monosyllabic Girl to I Wanna Be an Alcoholic. Mind you, those songs aren’t much longer than any of their others. After a tribute to the late Tony Sly, with The Shortest Pier, the set really ramped up as they broke out the White Trash Two Heebs and a Bean album (with Soul Doubt) and burned through The Separation of Church and Skate and Linoleum among others. During Bottles to the Ground a bloke managed to invade the stage despite the line of security, although he was denied a beating from Mike, instead receiving an impressive headlock from a roadie which nearly toppled a speaker. Then it all ended, almost too soon, with Kill All the White Man and a thank you.
The upside is, they’ll be back in a couple of weeks to do it all again “exactly the same,” Mike assured us, “but without guitars.”