No Age, Abe Vigoda and Infinite Body The Loft June 30, 2008
Better than: Risking life and limb arguing with skinheads back in the '80s at Studio D or The Theater Gallery.
Is this what punk rock has come to? Although all three acts hail from California, home of Black Flag, Fear, TSOL, Bad Religion and other legitimate punk bands, the music this night had more in common, for better and worse, with post-punkers/noise-makers such as Sonic Youth and Pere Ubu. Manically odd time signatures, unheard vocals and slacker hubris were the order of the day as about 200 brave souls ventured out this Monday evening to sit back, smoke and comment reluctantly on the heady proceedings.
Infinite Body kicked things off at around 9 p.m. with 20 minutes of modulated droning--just one guy manipulating a table full of electronics. One of the few women in attendance commented, “Nobody plays a table like this guy.” I didn’t have the necessary drugs to enjoy it.
Abe Vigoda was next and these four youngsters impressed the crowd immensely with feedback-drenched punk nuggets. Playing a handful of selections off the upcoming release Skeleton, Abe Vigoda was tight, loud and funny--everything a good punk band should be. Vocals were incomprehensible, but I’m not sure if the songs needed such clarity. Also, it’s always great when a band has a bassist and a drummer, but not a rhythm section. These two guys had no idea what each other were doing and the music was better off for it. Fans of Captain Beefheart should check into Abe Vigoda.
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At around 11 o'clock, Dean Spunt and Randy Randall of No Age hit the stage--but it took about three songs before the sound guy could figure out what the hell was going on. “More guitar in my monitor,” shouted Spunt. “More vocals for me,” pleaded Randall. When the duo kicked into “Teen Creeps” from the brilliant new effort Nouns, the crowd hopped about in dissonant bliss. For just two guys, No Age makes a hell of a racket, recalling Husker Du without the hooks. This is atonal stuff, blaring and uncompromising. It’s a wonder (and quite heartening) that folks come out to hear stuff like this. Spunt and Randall gave the faithful a long set of experimental punk, short on riffs, but long on attitude. “We’re just trying to feel it out, see how it works,” said Spunt after a spirited take of “Eraser,” showing more of punk’s true spirit than a hundred leather clad skinheads ever could.
Critic’s Notebook Personal Bias: Some things never change. Punk is a guy sport. The only women in attendance looked like guys, except the minors who looked like kids hiding from their perverted gym teacher.
By the way: The security guys at The Loft were bored as hell as there was not a disturbance to be found in the audience on this night. No fights, no bottles thrown, not even a shove as this well-mannered crowd was polite almost to a fault. I got a creepy “Invasion of the Body Snatchers” vibe by the end of the evening.
Random Note: The deck at The Loft has one of the best views of downtown. Surveying our fair city, I almost felt kind of maudlin, just for a second. With the relatively moderate temperature, many folks skipped the sets by the two opening bands to just converse on the patio. They missed Abe Vigoda, but they looked cool doing so. --Darryl Smyers