Fat Mike and NOFX are excellent party hosts, both onstage and off. Between the mess of Yuenglings and cake backstage, some powdery favors on the tour bus, and the barrage of greatest hits firing through the speakers, the band hosted an intense and liberating punk blowout for a capacity crowd Friday night at Revolution Live.
The evening began with a pair of rowdy openers, Mean Jeans and South Florida’s own Spred the Dub. Mean Jeans, a trio from Oregon signed to Fat Mike’s record label Fat Wreck Chords, followed an exuberant set by the reggae/ska local boys, Spred the Dub. Both outfits put on sets worth the price of admission, but the latter was particularly impressive, getting the 1,000-plus crowd moving and moshing from the word go.
And holy hell, was there dancing and thrashing. Punk shows almost always have a crackling electricity, ready to explode, and this audience more so. Perhaps it was the start of the weekend or everyone was pumped to welcome NOFX back, but there was no shortage of sweaty pushing and slippery floors to slide across.
The energy reached a feverish high once Fat Mike, clad in pink hair and a leather skirt, El Hefe, Eric Melvin, and Erik Sandin stepped onstage for what turned out to be a monster 25-song set list culled from 30 years and 12 albums' worth of music.
Many in the audience were in the 30-to-40s age range (aside from at least one shirtless toddler whose eventual learning difficulties in school will one day be traced back to this night's head-banging). It makes sense considering the band’s major breakthrough was 1994’s Punk in Drublic. As such, the songs that drew the best and biggest reactions were “Leave It Alone,” “Reeko,” and of course, “Linoleum,” which they saved for the encore and damned near broke the venue once the pit erupted into a swirling mass of elbows and knees.
Other standouts of the evening were “Franco Un-American,” “Dinosaurs Will Die,” and a song that must’ve made everyone happy Revolution doesn’t ever serve glass anything, “Bottles to the Ground.”
NOFX never really needed a good reason to go balls-to-the-wall at their shows. They just always have. Still, for this tour, the Hepatitis Bathtub Tour, named after the band's recently released memoir, there seems to be a little extra gusto. The book is a revelatory and sometimes shockingly personal insight into each member’s history and inner and outer demons. Between the stories they share in the book, their more affable and forthcoming relationship with the media, and shows as fiery as the one they put on Friday night, one can sense a sort of ongoing catharsis.
This is something that in fact seems to extend to their fans. At a NOFX show, we can just let go, let loose — and while the veteran hard-partiers and punk-rockers wail away on their instruments — we can shout and swing our own problems away, even if it’s just for one night.