Monday, December 29, 2008

No Age | Club 770 South | Nov 17

It was nice to be able to take part this time.

It was just over a year ago when the University of Wisconsin got Deerhoof to play a free show on campus. I was pretty excited at the prospects, only to have to go to the hospital for an emergency appendectomy that day.

I visited a friend in North Carolina last weekend and considered driving across the state because I've had a compulsion to see No Age again after catching them at the Pitchfork Festival in Chicago. Instead, I was able to catch them in Madison after getting back to the Midwest - for free.

After my buddy Adam and I got some good Peruvian food at Inka Heritage, we popped into Club 770 . It's a tiny venue that evidently is on the verge of being replaced.

No Age and opening act Titus Andronicus did their part to swing the wrecking ball on Club 770 Monday night. Despite my disdain for one-man groups playing with their toys, starter act Soft Circle didn't sound bad.

Then Titus Andronicus pulled two firsts...for me, anyhow. Their lead singer did his first couple songs in a winter coat with the hood pulled over his face, sticking his mic through the hood to sing like Kenny from South Park would.

Later, while playing harmonica, he dropped to his knees on stage. "An angry Dylan," Adam said.
Anyway, it was tough to resist their energy. At one point, the lead singer endured an assault conducted by his own fist and mic.

One of the things I love about shows like this is sometimes you'll see the band members holding down their own merch table. It gave me the opportunity to briefly shoot the breeze with No Age guitarist Randy Randall.

Super sweet and cool guy. Quite humble. He said Pitchfork was fun but agreed with me that the sound crews needed to have their asses kicked.

Titus turned out to be a good primer for No Age. The LA duo had one problem: drummer Dean Spunt needed to turn up his mic.

I understand if something is going to give, it will be Spunt's vocals rather than the uncanny amount of sound Randall conjures out of his guitar. Maybe it was the venue, maybe it was Spunt drumming while he sang, but his vocals didn't always come through clear and he shouldn't hide his voice.

OK, enough of the nitpicking. I love these guys. Same for the crowd.

In some ways, it was better than a regular venue. Between the small size and the already jacked-up crowd, it made for a volatile mosh pit.

Adam and I were tempted to join in but given my size and our blood-alcohol content, I think we made the better decision to just look on longingly. At one point, the pit almost tipped over the speakers to the right of the stage.

No Age was wired to play for the students and the crowd kept urging them on. They even unveiled a new track, which Spunt afterward titled "Fuck Prop 8 In The Face".

During one song, Randall jumped into the front of the crowd and started lashing away. The crowd formed a circle around him as he thrashed away.

On one hand, the show was every bit the chaos I hoped it would be. No Age's live work makes me eager for what the band has in store after Nouns, a disc I can't get enough of.

On the other hand, I have to wonder sometimes about the Madison music scene. I thought a band like No Age might have the place packed, but to each their own, I guess.

I'm not sure if I'll catch another show before the year ends. But No Age followed Deerhoof last month in Milwaukee, and with Pitchfork and Lollapalooza last summer, my Christmas stocking is already stuffed with great live performances.

photo courtesy of concert photos

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