P4k 2011 Day 2: No Age, Gang Gang Dance and OFF!
As good as some of the preceding acts were, the beats per minute stayed firmly in the “nod your head and bounce in place” range. But the tempo finally was upped to an inspiring head-banging frenzy with the 3:20 p.m. main-stage set by the L.A. hardcore punk duo No Age, and a sizable portion of the crowd responded in a spirited mosh pit.
On album, Randy Randall and Dean Allen Spunt can indulge in a fair amount of noise-rock experimentation. But like most smart punks, they know to stick to the basics on stage, dishing out adrenaline, adrenaline, and more adrenaline. Oh, and a rip-roaring cover of the Misfits’ “Hybrid Moments” to boot.
There really was just one word for what the band delivered: Ferocious. And, lord, was it needed at Pitchfork Day Two.
Rating for No Age: 8.8.
And then… back to the pointless, clichéd, mid-tempo electronic noodling. Was Manhattan’s arty electronic Gang Gang Dance as bad as Animal Collective in Grateful Dead mode Friday night? Almost. And at least Panda Bear and pals had a light show.
The set started out with about 10 minutes of grooveless beeps, squiggles, and synthesizer farts, and things only got marginally better when the drum machine kicked in. The utter lack of dynamic range, melodic ideas, rhythmic originality, or sonic diversity of any kind made the hourlong set easily seem six times as long.
Rating for Gang Gang Dance: 2.5.
My plan for Saturday had been to spare my intrepid colleague Althea Legaspi from having to leave the shade surrounding the second stage, but after Gang Gang Dance, I just wasn’t up for Destroyer. I didn’t have any expectations for this set being much better than the one at Pitchfork a few years back, especially after “Kaputt,” so I swapped with her for OFF! I desperately needed another dose of No Age-level energy.
Formed about two years ago, OFF! is an L.A. hardcore-punk supergroup comprising singer Keith Morris (Black Flag and the Circle Jerks), Dimitri Coats (Burning Brides), Mario Rubalcaba (Rocket From the Crypt), and the great Steven McDonald (Redd Kross). But the key word there is “hardcore,” and unlike pretty much every other supergroup in rock history, this one spends zero time resting on its members’ laurels.
In fact, OFF! spends zero time resting at all.
At past shows, Morris apparently has filled some of the time padding the group’s relatively short list of originals with a lot of stage patter. But that was kept to a minimum in Union Park as the band tore through one fierce but melodic burst of chaos after another. And what stage patter Morris did deliver was pretty funny.
“‘F*ck People’ is about, ‘F*ck people who text people on their cell phones while driving along, too important to show that they’re about to change lanes,’” Morris said, trying to explain exactly who he had been addressing in the pleasant little ditty the band had just played. “It’s about, ‘F*ck people who get in the 15 items or less line at the grocery store with 20 items.’ It’s not, ‘F*ck all you people,’ unless you’re one of those people. Then f*ck you!”
Ah, yes, this is exactly what Pitchfork 2011 needs! And Morris knew it, too.
“I really want to thank all of you for hanging out with us,” he said at the end of the set. “We’re kind of an odd flavor at the Pitchfork party.” Too true, too true.
Rating for OFF!: 9.4.