In which our correspondent reports in on Monday morning about what you can look forward to the next time No Age lands in Brooklyn on a Monday night.
Market Hotel is a natural habitat of sorts for Titus Andronicus. It’s the only venue where I’ve ever seen them play, and it seems kinda weird to me that they’ve ever played anywhere else. Punk mantras like “the enemy is everywhere” or “your life is over” are meant to be repetitively shouted amidst peeling walls and the ever-present threat of getting showered with cheap beer, and even on what was at least technically a Monday night this melding of band and location was capable of getting people in an exuberantly violent mood. Going to a three-hour rock show on a Monday is something of a “fuck all,” and TA’s performance fed off of the low-scale recklessness of getting drunk on the mildest night of the week. Frontman Patrick Stickles did an always-risky back-dive into the small crowd attempting to mosh in front of the stage, and proved well-practiced in bellowing the band’s eponymous fist-pumper while horizontally aloft.
Their set closed with a brief cameo from a ski-capped Ted Leo, who led a raucous Misfits cover before returning to the burgeoning but not totally sold-out crowd. Your correspondent’s world would have been slightly rocked if frickin’ No Age failed to sell out a loft in a stretch of town where those prismatic t-shirts of theirs are almost at pop-icon status. Luckily the Hotel was just about full by the time Randy Randall and Dean Sprunt were finished setting up, which guaranteed that the upcoming set would be an energetic if slightly violent affair.
Luckily the crowd, unfazed as it was by the onslaught of the work week, held up their end of things, and the hour-long set was every bit the blizzard of shoulders and limbs you’d expect a No Age show to be. As for No Age: I’m constantly impressed that a guitar and drum set can make so much goddamn noise, although this is more of an engineering trick than anything else. As far as the music goes, No Age’s live package is somewhat frustrating. Those stretches of semi-ambient loops that bookend several of the songs on Nouns and Weirdo Rippers give the albums a crucial organizing aesthetic; live, the noisier sections are more plodding, and the songs themselves sound surprisingly conventional. There are some bands whose live act is messy but still suggestive of some underlying sonic depth (Deerhunter comes to mind); live, No Age offers little more than ear-ripping two-chord punk, with less of their epic, slightly symphonic side on display.
But their songwriting is good enough to keep the kids clothes-lining each other, and pretty much any criticism of No Age’s live sound is balanced by the energy of their performances. Things got wild as soon as the opening “whoosh” of “Teen Creeps” kicked things off, and only died down during the rare break between songs, which they literally played dozens of (I had a trouble thinking of songs they didn’t play Monday, actually…). For a lot of the people in attendance, the show promised a Tuesday morning of hung-over despondency—a totally worthwhile sacrifice after sets from two of the year’s most exciting punk acts.