It took me a minute to warm to No Age. I wasn’t so sure about Weirdo Rippers—as one expects from an album cobbled together from 7”s and EPs, it was a little uneven. But Nouns had me fully convinced. And while I still think they might sound better in a basement, their show last night in the KEXP parking lot demonstrated that they’re also capable of commanding a big outdoor summer crowd (I missed Sunday of Sub Pop, sadly, so I don’t know how the held it down there). They just can’t always command their own feedback.
The show was a “freeyrradio” event, sponsored by Urban Outfitters and Yaris and benefiting KEXP. Signs on the fence around the parking lot informed concertgoers that they would be filmed and that their likeness might appear in an advertising campaign. I look forward to the Yaris commercial featuring a couple dozen teenagers moshing and attemtping some weak crowdsurfs. It should be cute.
No Age’s drummer/vocalist Dean Spunt and guitarist Randy Randall kept calling the concert “the freedom show.” Randall was wearing a Joy Division t-shirt with what looked like arabic text on it, an accumulated mess of VIP bracelets on one wrist, and an Obama button on his guitar strap.
In between songs, Spunt called for “all the kids” to “come to the front,” and maybe another dozen kids did, snaking their way in between people to stake out what would soon become the mosh pit. The moment reminded me a little of Bikini Kill’s old move of reserving the front for girls at shows, and asking boys to stand in the back. (Of course, Bikini Kill were doing that to carve out some safe space (literally) for girls in what was often an aggressively male dominated area (both music and mosh pits), whereas, punk/indie/whatever has always been an exceedingly youth-friendly culture, youth culture, really and mosh pits are as Craig Finn notes in this issue all about kids.)
But, yeah, the mosh pit? Super cute. Between that and reminiscing with friends before the show about our own botched teenage dye jobs, it took me back. As a friend put it, It’s been a while since I’ve had to lift anyone’s leg over my head.
There was some unintended feedback throughout much of No Age’s set to go along with the band’s own washes of distorted delay. (Spunt: “That’s extra feedback, that’s not us.”) At one point, as the band wrestled with the technicals, one audience member shouted out, “Get your shit together!” To Randall replied, dryly, “Thanks, dad.”
The band played most of Nouns (highlights: “Teen Creeps,” “Sleeper Hold,” “Miner,” “Eraser”—fuck, they’re pretty much all highlights) as well as “Neck Escaper,” and, finally, “Everybody’s Down.” I don’t usually call out requests, but I did call out for that song when it seemed like they were getting down to their last of their set; I read somewhere that the band didn’t play the song at the recent Pitchfork festival, which is just, as whatever writer I’m thinking of pointed out, bananas. “Everybody’s Down” is No Age’s one choreographed, climactic stunt moment—Randall perching on his amps, choking feedback from his guitar, Spunt intoning “everybody’s down” standing at the mic, then returning to his drum kit to kick the beat back in—plus, the song’s just a monster anthem. It thrilled as always, even if I’m still a little embarrassed for making a request—that shit is for the kids.
(That “secret” “house” show is going to be certified bananas.)