When Colin realised I was going to the same NOFX/Alkaline Trio tour as him he asked if I would also review it for his blog as it would be interesting to read about the differences between how a woman experiences a gig and how a man experiences it.
I saw them in Leeds on the original Friday date where they were supported by Lagwagon and Gnarwolves and I basically bought my ticket for Alkaline Trio. Disclaimer: I don’t really know NOFX at all. Like, I know that Bob song but that’s about it. Given that it’s now been over a week since the Leeds gig, I’m sure many of you may have already reviews of it and so I don’t intend to get too into too much detail about the songs they played etc. especially since my memory is rubbish and I couldn’t tell you the names or order of what was played. Instead I’m going to talk about how I personally experienced the gig.
The O2 Academy in Leeds is a venue that a lot of my friends don’t particularly like. It’s a tall building with a balcony level so even though it has quite a large capacity it doesn’t feel that crowded as there is still a decent amount of space above you. It also means that the stage is high enough that even people my height (about 5’6) can generally see the stage. I’m used to going to tiny gigs in tiny Scottish basements where there’s like 40 other people in the room with you so I was worried I’d feel overwhelmed or uncomfortable in a bigger venue but I didn’t and generally the crowd was great. I didn’t spend the gig squashed into some large, sweaty man’s armpit and I didn’t get trodden on or particularly pushed around. My friend Jack (who I blog with here) did get quite groinally intimate with a man in front of him who seemed determined to pretty much get inside him but given that we weren’t that far back from the circle pit we did okay.
Unfortunately, due to me and my pals having a moment of confusion about door times, we completely missed Gnarwolves and, due to the complete ineptitude of the O2 bar staff, we spent most of Lagwagon queuing to then not even get served. I don’t know Lagwagon but what I heard sounded alright. I have since heard negative reviews though so maybe they weren’t up to their usual standard. Alkaline Trio, however, were fucking amazing. So good. They did From Here To Infirmary in full and then finished with a few other tracks and I spent the whole set singing my heart out along with them. They didn’t spend that much time talking between songs but it didn’t really need it as pretty much the whole crowd was so in to it. My friend Brendan, who is the singer for Get Human, did say he noticed Skiba not quite hitting some of his notes but I couldn’t tell. Ten out of ten, would see again.
NOFX, on the other hand, I will never see live again. Or probably even choose to listen to. I’ve seen completely opposing views of their performance, even just amongst my friends, but for me it was bad. Musically they were okay but not great, but the problem was the chat between the songs. Like I said, I don’t really know NOFX but I always had the vague idea they were decent enough people. I was definitely not prepared for the sheer volume of bigoted and offensive bullshit I heard. I don’t care if they didn’t mean it, it went beyond a joke. Homophobia, racism, slut shaming, insulting the disabled fans who’d come out to see them, transphobia, etc etc etc. There was just no need. People I’ve spoken to since then have suggested we can’t hold them, or punk musicians in general, up to ‘those standards’ (i.e. not being bigoted fucks) but why not? I tried to ignore it/let it go as a joke/whatever but I walked out halfway through the encore when they stood in front of their Rainbow flag and deliberately misgendered Caitlyn Jenner. One of the main reasons I love Punk is for how accepting and open it is but this set completely alienated me. I’ve seen as many people say that they loved the show as I have say they hated it. Maybe the band didn’t mean it, maybe they did but the point is they said it.