Bands: No Age, Make It Up
Venue: Cholmondley’s Coffeehouse aka CHUM’s, Brandeis University (Waltham, MA)
Date: Saturday, March 10, 2012
Act One: Make It Up – Starting the evening off right were these guys — a local four piece playing their second show ever (or so I heard right before they began playing). They rocked harder than the human mind might have originally suspected. In some ways similar to their counterparts tonight, there was at first ambiance characterized by lightly strummed guitars and sparse drumming. This didn’t last very long at all. The sound got louder and louder and eventually reminded me of Fugazi. The singer/guitarist seemed most passionate in contrast to the gentle playing of the bassist, lead guitarist, and drummer. He made great use of his lone pedal, which when stepped on produced heavy distortion and (thanks in part to the other dudes) no rhythym was lost. There was one song that I thought was a Fugazi cover, but it could have easily been a New Order or Joy Division song…or simply an original. Either way, this was a highlight. So three or four songs in, a man approaches the stage and tells the singer: “You’ve got 5 minutes left!” Singer is astonished at this situation; the band has seemingly been on stage for a shorter span than their sound check an hour earlier! Well, Daylight Savings came a few hours early for this gentleman as the band ended up playing for another ten minutes, the rough equivalent to two songs. The band, absent a member apparently, put these moments to the best use they could and the result seemed to be an increasingly pumped up crowd.
Act Two: No Age
Glen– Shows like these seem to come once every three years for me. I shouldn’t really say shows, though. These are more like profound experiences. Journeys into the unknown. What am I talking about? Chum’s at Brandeis University is a peculiar place. We KLYAM folk had never ventured into this territory and probably never anticipated doing so. It felt just like April 2009 when we ventured to Wellesley College to see this very band – NO AGE — in a small rec room intended for the head bobbing and jumping around of students and guests of that institution. Being outsiders has its perks…namely unfamiliarity. All pre-show bullshit aside, we were here for one of our favorite bands, No Age. I don’t toss around ‘favorite’ lightly. These guys really are and five No Age shows later this fact is ever so evident to me. Dean and Randy walked onto the raised platform, took their usual spots, and all seemed to be well…except Dean’s voice was not being heard through his microphone! No big deal for the audience as Randy was already strumming and stepping on some pedals to generate atmospheric sounds that resembled the best of Weirdo Rippers in that department. Low and behold, about five minutes later, a switcharoo of microphones took place and the band was about to get into the kind of shit that would activate the audience into a frenzy. And so began the frenzy after eight noisy strums from Randy and Dean’s battering of his drum set. This was “Ripped Knees” folks, a classic from No Age’s 2008 LP Nouns. The moshing was rampant and active. So was the back of the room initiated crowd surfing and failed mini stage dive attempts. Damn, every one was having so much fun! The slower parts of songs meant less intensity from the audience, but damn I tell you nobody was going to let a minute and a half of waves crashing get the best of them on Rippers fave “Every Artist Needs a Tragedy.” The crowd erupted in chaotic joy once the distortion and vocals kicked in. Whether it was bumping into people, falling onto the ground, singing into an unplugged microphone, or doing whatever, the fans of No Age on this night brought their A-game. All thanks to Dean and Randy, of course! There were just so many moments of grandeur throughout the set. The cover homage to somewhat local legend GG Allin (“Don’t Talk To Me”) assisted by Aviram Cohen of Silk Flowers brought back fine memories of when those three did the same thing at the Middle East in November 2008. “Fever Dreaming,” which drew the biggest reaction by far was just incredible. About half way through, I thought Dean shouted to Randy “one more,” but really it was “Boy Void” and what a good thing that was! We also got a taste of some new material. From my standpoint, the awesomeness factor hardly waned with the introduction of these songs. The sole exception was during one of the new ones, which was a far reaching overdrive of noise and drum bashing. I didn’t know whether to blame my shot ears or the speaker system. Either way, no big deal! I’ve got mention as always my absolute favorites that were played: “Teen Creeps,” “Here Should Be My Home,” and “Brain Burner.” Also this time around, I really enjoyed “Chem Trails” from 2010’s Everything in Between. If this doesn’t go down in history as one of my favorite live experiences, I’m not really sure what does. I’m sure a good chunk of the audience would also stack this right on top of the best of ’em. I’ve seen some great ones over the years, but there’s something about a No Age show that continually leaves me amazed (and hard of hearing).
Chris DeCarlo– No Age is one of the originals for us. For the KLYAM, it was not until mid to late ’09 when we started to get into 90% of the stuff we dig now, we simply never came across most of it. But, No Age, on the other hand, has been with us since July ’08 and since then we have held them near and dear. I know for readers who are much older than us (we’re 21) talking about 2008 and 2009 with nostalgia probably sounds stupid, but honestly as Glen expressed, it feels like ages ago. At the time, No Age was unlike anything I had ever experienced before, both live and on record. They were and still are able to communicate with their fans on a level most other artists never reach. As brilliant as No Age is, they almost come off to me as your local punk rock band playing in a basement for their friends. I don’t mean this in a disparaging way at all, in fact, it’s a trait sadly few other bands at No Age’s level possess. There’s this humble quality to them that other artists have seemed to have lost, whether intentionally or not. In a weird way, I have always seen No Age as another version of the Black Lips. Think about it! Both bands at heart play rock and roll with an emphasis on passion over musicianship that is articulated through their unending devotion to fun and positivity. I know what your thinking, “you could say that about a million bands,” and you’re right, but if you feel the way I do, you know you can’t point to any other bands and feel the same way. And so after journeying through an elaborate looking castle and finally stumbling upon Chum’s, a relatively small space, I knew No Age would kill it as always. That energy I spoke of earlier spread through the room instanteaneously. Sure, the sound wasn’t perfect, but I would rather spend 60 minutes bomping back and forth into bodies and falling on the floor whilst Dean and Randy unleash noisy classic after classic than stand in a stadium and hear a nice clean, clear set; of course I would have to gaze through my binoculars to see the drummer creating those fine drum beats instead of nearly crashing my skull into Dean’s drums! It’s funny, I love watching people react to shit. For example, if I have a crush on a girl in one of my classes, I love to see what makes her laugh or cringe or whatever. During live shows, I often observe the performers to see how they react to the crowd. Alas, most performers don’t seem to show their emotions in this way or at least I don’t see it, but with No Age this is not the case. One of my favorite moments from the evening was during (I believe) “Fever Dreaming,” when everyone was basically going nuts (in a good way) and one girl was having the time of her life crowd surfing to the point that she was hanging on to the bars attached to the ceiling and when I turned my head to the band, I saw Dean smirking and it just made me smile. I could see in his eyes, he was loving the way the crowd was reacting to his music, just a great shared moment. Not to beat a dead horse, but I also notice this with Ian St. Pe at Black Lips shows. Just an appreciation of joy and music. Moments like these seem to come more often at smaller, more intimate venues and let me just say for a band as visible as No Age, for them to be playing a little venue nearly four years into their “indie stardom” (I hate those phrases hence the quotation marks) is admirable and rare. Not to say playing a bigger venue is a bad thing, I don’t mean to say that makes any other band of their status lesser for playing bigger and/or more conventional venues, good for them, the more the merrier! But, as a fan, it is incredible to experience these up close and personal shows with one of my favorite mid-level bands, a feat I can’t say about any other artist I know. Five shows deep it has been and will continue to be a great experience with No Age. Regardless of the venue, here should be my home.
Here’s a link to some more exclusive photos from our buddy Kiyal Canareo. Thanks dude! http://www.flickr.com/photos/51832704@N07/7591252034/in/photostream/