Review: Bad Religion, Nofx, and Pour Habit, Auckland Town Hall, 04/10/09 by underground

New Zealand doesn’t get too many bands visit from overseas, let alone two heavy-weights at one single show. So when news broke earlier this year that Bad Religion and Nofx would play the Auckland Town Hall together, the punk scene was stoked.

Name any modern punk band and either Bad Religion or Nofx influenced their sound or gave them their break. Both bands born in the earlier 1980s, they have led the way for countless other bands, and are still going strong as Nofx surpasses 25 years and 30 years beckon for Bad Religion.

One of the hordes of bands who owe a lot to these pioneers is Pour Habit, a recent Fat Wreck Chords signing, who opened the Town Hall show. Hailing from Compton, CA, Pour Habit is really unlike most punk bands we see on our shores. Soundwise, the vocalist, an acrobatic African American, reminds me of early Tim McIlrath (Rise Against), and the band is heavy, with souring Strung Out-esque guitar solos and thunderous drumming.

Considering punk is usually about equality, acceptance and (sometimes) inclusiveness, it is a shame the scene isn’t more diverse. Hopefully Pour Habit will break more stereotypes and entice more non-whiteys away from rap and RnB and towards punk.

On to the main show, and the self-proclaimed “Sultans of Slander” took to the stage. Well known as a band who talk a lot between songs Nofx did not stray from convention, with more talk than Muammar al-Gaddafi at the United Nations before they’d even played a note, with Fat Mike quipping the instruments were “props”. Apart from a few exceptions the band played a very different setlist than previous visits, which would have pleased those who had seen them before, but likely disappointed new-comers to the band. Nonetheless the band played with enthusiasm and got nothing less from the packed crowd, with mayhem on the floor and the balconies.

With all the banter and a few rubbish songs performed, Nofx could have thrown in The Decline or a few other crowd pleasers, but with Nofx, fans should understand to expect no more than 70 or so percent.

Bad Religion took up their positions on the stage and got right into Los Angeles is Burning. They sounded flat and unenthusiastic. The single was followed by much debate and a hasty sound check. The crowd got restless but the work was worth it, as the sound was greatly improved as was the attitude of the band. Bad Religion came to please and so wanted the best sound possible. Many songs were made heavier, with the guitars producing the heaviest-sounding palm-muting imaginable, which gave the songs extra fury. Drummer Brooks Wackerman was a marvel, beyond describable. Surprisingly Bad Religion only played one track of their latest album New Maps of Hell (2007), instead playing several from Recipe for Hate, the Grey Race and many from the early 1980s.

Next year should see a new album from the world’s greatest band, and if we’re lucky, having found a shores for the first time in only 2007, Bad Religion will be back. If they do, don’t miss it for the world, as they are one hell of a fine live band.


Review: NOFX – Coaster by underground
August 14, 2009, 6:14 pm
Filed under: Music | Tags: , , , , ,

The first NOFX album I bought was Pump up the Valium. I couldn’t stand it. I was just getting into punk, having moved on from the Blink 182s and Green Days, but NOFX was not for me. Where’s the intro, verse, chorus, verse, etc. formula? After a few listens I gave up on NOFX.

NOFX was an acquired taste for me that I eventually became addicted to. I picked up their back catalogue and eagerly awaited new releases. Their latest, Coaster, has left me wondering whether they are past it though.

It’s not that musically it isn’t good. El Hefe and Melvin’s trademark licks and palm muted riffs are there in abundance. Fat Mike can play the bass like few in the business and Smelly is still a killer drummer.

It’s just a bit same old, same old.

Fat Mike is still singing about drinking and hating on religion. Sometimes it works; I am an Alcoholic and Blasphemy (the Victimless Crime), sometimes it doesn’t; First Call and Best God in Show. These songs aren’t bad; they’re just not that good. Mediocore – if you will.

The highlight is My Orphan Year. Unfortunately all too little really stands out as exceptional.

Coaster is the first NOFX album since Valium I have put in stereo, listened to for half a dozen times and then left in its case on the rack for several months.

I have on several occasions rewritten this review. It appears the album is slowly growing on me…

Lagwagon concert review, King’s Arms, 13 Nov 2008 by underground

Ringing in the ears and a sore throat are indicative of one of two things. Either you have been screaming for your brother to turn down his stereo pumping techno, or you have been singing along to one of your favourite bands at the top of your voice. Tonight I have done the latter, as I have just got home from watching California punk band Lagwagon rock Auckland’s King’s Arms.

A diverse crowd turned up tonight with one singular intention: to see one of Fat Wreck Chord’s seminal acts, a band whose Auckland performance a few years back was, according to many, one of the best punk shows ever on our fine but distant shores. So when I heard Lagwagon were playing Auckland, I had to see them for myself. Continue reading

Lagwagon in New Zealand and Australia by underground

Sure I’m a little slow on this, I have been slack, but I’m keen to draw people’s attention to what should be a killer show. Hot the heals of the announcement Pittsburgh punkers Anti-Flag are heading to our shores later in the year, Fat Wreck’s Lagwagon are touring in November. I haven’t seen these guys, so I am really looking forward to this one. From what I’ve heard they are awesome live and totally went off when they were here a few years back. I wasn’t that keen on them then, for some reason, so I’m something of a late convert to these guys. Anyway i saw the Gimmes in January and Joey has a lot of fun on stage, so I assume they should be a blast to see as well. They are touring in support of their latest EP “I think my brother used to listen to Lagwagon”, which I have to get my hands on and possibly review (or Amberleigh). Hell I only have “Hoss” and the “live in a dive” album, but I’m pretty stoked for this one. Should make for a pretty sweet summer, especially if we get some good genre acts turn up for the BDO ’09. Continue reading

Strung out/No use for a name news and reviews by underground

In light of the announcement that Californian punk heavyweights No use for a name and Strung out are making their way to New Zealand and Australia in June, I reviewed the bands’ latest releases, Strung out’s “Blackhawks over Los Angeles” and No use for a name’s “The feel good record of the year”. This is a show that punk fans should not miss, as both these bands are amazing live. Continue reading