NOFX/ Teenage Bottle Rocket
Bands I like, I see live as often as I can. These two bands are lumped in that category. I’ve seen NOFX a plethora of times over the years, and as I’ve grown to like TBR more and more, they are quickly catching up. I have to admit, my friends and I were really here to see Teenage Bottlerocket. We all referred to it as “the TBR show.” What can I say? We love that short, three-chord shit.
We got to the venue a bit late, having not given adequate consideration to traffic driving down from Columbus. Not long after we arrived, Teenage Bottlerocket went on. These guys have gone from VFW halls to theaters in a mere matter of years. The first time I saw them was around 2004 or 2005 at a small venue in Huntington, West Virginia, a small town with an even smaller music scene. Now, here we were just outside Cincinnati in a theater with a capacity of about 1200. My how things change!
TBR took to the stage and blasted right into “Skate or Die” and the crowd was instantly pogo-ing. They haven’t just grown in popularity; they’ve grown performance-wise as well. They keep getting tighter and tighter. They played “oldies” like “Radio” and “Blood Bath at Burger King,” as well as new material like “Don’t Want to Go.” There were marginal breaks between songs, if any, and I imagined these two minute bursts of punk rock were probably close to what it would have been like to see the Ramones.
Now, seeing NOFX will always be an impressive show. The fact that these guys manage to perform their material at the same speed as the recordings is an impressive feat in and of itself. All the ripping and soloing is there, and with the exception of when they’re fucking up, it sounds just like the album. Not easy to pull off when you’re playing super-fast SoCal punk. That being said, I’ve grown a bit tired of seeing them live. They haven’t put out anything particularly spectacular in years, although their political work is to be commended and I certainly appreciate it considering the times. The songs have been just as good and well written as their earlier stuff, but it hasn’t had the same punch. I’m not quite sure what’s missing. I suppose part of it is that the more times I see them, the more like a stage show it becomes. I know what to expect.
Those complaints aside, I still enjoy their show. They are funny. They are in sync and on point, and they have an amazing catalog to choose from. The most exciting point of the set came when they were about to play “The Decline,” hands down the greatest punk song ever written. Fat Mike said something along the lines of “This next one we’re gonna play because we’ve never played it here, but it’s sort of a long one.” Initially, cheers went out throughout the crowd, but then some asshole yelled “yes, you have. You played it at such and such venue.”
See, I think being in a constantly touring band, maybe you don’t pay much attention to where you are, so you don’t really notice that Covington, Kentucky is just across the river from Cincinnati, Ohio. They are different, but it’s the same crowd. Well, that’s all it took. They didn’t play it. Thanks, fuckwad. Not everyone here is from Cincy. And I haven’t fucking seen them play “The Decline.” Twat. Around that time I decided to get more intoxicated than I had originally planned, since I was in a rage. After the show we waited around for a while so I could try to interview TBR, but I never caught them. We ended up going to an impressive after hours featuring the Dopamines and a few other noteworthy bands. Like I said, things got a bit hairy. That’s the best I can do.