Fueled (and a little fucked up) on free Famosa beer and Brooklyn Lager, last night's crowd for No Age at the Fountain Art Fair (or at least the stageside section where I spent the show) was a pretty serious sausage fest.
Things were quiet for the first few minutes. You even saw a few female faces. But by the middle of the second song, a bunch of 20-year-old dudes formed a sparsely populated circle pit, got deranged on noise, and indiscriminately spilled its male angst like surplus seed.
It was a muddy art punk mess. See the cut for five videos from No Age's set.
The first thing that dialed up the young male anger was a performance piece staged just prior to showtime. While drummer-singer Dean Spunt and guitar guy Randy Randall tried to set up their gear, a foppish Brit auctioneer hijacked the stage and ordered around a gaggle of bathingsuit- and loincloth-clad minions while soliciting reverse bids (ex. starting at $1 million and then ending at a penny) on trashy pieces of artwork like a cardboard version of the fair's namesake, R. Mutt's Fontaine.
Meanwhile, all the young punks bitched: "What the fuck is this shit? Is this any way to start a rock show?" Even the aging punks got in some criticism: "Stop! This is like a Saturday Night Live skit gone bad. Fuck! Just stop it!"
The ultimate result of this arty interruption was a 50-minute delay. Originally, No Age was supposed to play at 11 p.m. But with the fake auction and a hurried, half-assed soundcheck, the music didn't start until about ten minutes to midnight. Once No Age ripped into it, though, the scene swelled. The set's opener: A fuzzy, thick, and soaringly ragged "Teen Creeps."
Then Spunt made a joke that set off the circle pit, saying he felt like he was in a fashion show. "I like photography," he smiled, pointing directly at me and the other press types clustered at the foot of the stage. "But maybe you guys should take a few photos and then go party." Right away, the 20-ish sausage soldiers stepped up and answered the call, throwing elbows, shoving strangers, and stagediving straight into the mud.
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Mostly, this modest chaos didn't bubble over into a bad scene. Sure, some ladies got (accidentally?) bashed and mauled before retreating to safer corners of the Fountain courtyard. (It wasn't a total exodus, though. A couple of tough chicks did stick it out on the left side of the stage.) And midway through the show, a short fistfight broke out. But aside from a few minor incidents, the punks kept shit positive.
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On top of cuts from the band's official catalog, Spunt and Randall tried out a couple covers, like the Misfits' "Hybrid Moments" (watch the video above) and scum hero GG Allin's "Don't Talk to Me." But instead of soaking these simple punk cuts in the band's trademark distorted churn, the duo turned out fairly straightforward takes that felt like a secret look at No Age's personal record collection.
At 12:30 a.m., already a half-hour after Fountain's curfew, the night climaxed and died in the very same moment when Spunt stepped on top of his drum stool and launched into the closer, an almost three-minute version of "Everybody's Down." Half pulling his shirt over his head, he droned through the entire song, trailing off with a few sleepy ooo-ooo-oohs into a short lull during which Randall gave the crowd a quick shout-out, "Thanks, everybody. Let's fuck some shit up." With those words and a dramatic pause, No Age exploded into a final 35-second freakout, pounding and shredding and abruptly finishing.
Done, Spunt tried to say bye. But some overzealous Fountain staffer had already cut the power.