Live In Vancouver (11/04/16)The Commodore Ballroom - Vancouver, BC
By Bobby Gorman
AZlyrics.com has a grand total of 340 songs listed under NOFX. That’s a lot of songs to choose from when you’re slimming down to create a 25 song set list. It also means that as a fan, you really have no idea what songs you’ll hear on any given night either. In a time where so many shows are preplanned down to a T, that unknown coefficient adds an element of excitement and rawness.
And NOFX are nothing if not raw.
Fat Mike. Eric Melvin. El Hefe and Smelly. These guys are a band that don’t really give a fuck in the most sincere way. They do what they want and eschew any expectations. It’s little things too. Where most bands drop 20ft banners behind them, NOFX hung a small, tiny version of their Wolves in Wolf Clothing logo proudly above their stage. The bright yellow almost being swallowed by the blackness behind it.
But that minimalistic sign stands out, becomes a talking point and symbolizes the band: they’re not showboating, they’re just here to play music and have a good time. It’s a simple goal that they complete with style.
Newly sober Fat Mike was still his charismatic self. He was loud, he was abrasive, he was comical and in your face. The banter between him, El Hefe and Eric Melvin is sometimes stupid, sometimes hilarious but always real and unscripted. Even having to do with the drunken shenanigans of Chi Pig makes for an entertaining exchange of words. They jump around, they’re sloppy and make mistakes but no one cares, it’s a punk show where mistakes are meant to happen.
They get political when they need to, the upcoming election gives them cause to play The Idiots Are Taking Over and That One Man I Killed and solemn in remembering Tony Sly on his birthday with the soothing new cut I’m So Sorry Tony. They play their hits – Linoleum and Bob – but not as encores or opening tracks. They just get lost in the shuffle with no special focus on them and it works because their entire catalogue is swamped with hits.
There’s the older ones, I’m Telling Time, Dinosaurs Will Die, Murder the Government, Eat The Meek and the ultra quick and very simple Fuck The Kids. Then you mix it up with 72 Hookers, We March To The Beat of an Indifferent Drum, Seeing Double at the Triple Rock, Bottles to the Ground and even the brand new I Don’t Like Me Anymore and it’s a varied setlist covering their entire history.
Karina Deniké of The Dance Hall Crashers was even there to help add harmonies and keyboard melodies to Mattersville and the aforementioned I’m So Sorry Tony among others.
The one showmanshippy thing NOFX always manages to pull out is their closing number. Over the years I’ve seen them end with The Decline, or Everybody’s A Little Bit Racist from the musical Q. Friday night saw them close out the evening with Pump Up The Valuum‘s Theme From A NOFX Album with Eric Melvin dragging the final melody out for at least an added five minutes to great comedic effect.
It ended the way a NOFX show should end: random, hilarious and unpredictable.