No Age’s Balancing Act

Mar 15th, 2008 // 2 Comments

P1000062.JPGAdding to the “I’m missing everything” feeling provided by the fact that during SXSW every bar with 10 square feet of space turns itself into a temporary music venue is the ever-growing number of day parties, which are hosted by PR companies, blogs, hair products, and anyone else who wants to promote themselves along with the music they love. We gave a schedule to former Austin resident Andy Beta and let him go to town; here he watches as No Age plays one of its many scheduled sets around Austin.

This morning’s balanced breakfast, courtesy of Rhapsody, includes a plate of stewed chicken and black beans, balanced precariously atop a can of Coors (while courtesy of CVS is some Advil and generic brand allergy medicine). Equally balanced is No Age guitarist Randy Randall atop his stack of amps, his head pressed against the white canvas of the tent as he bludgeons out a riff, while drummer Dean Spunt tattoos the Rhapsody banner behind the stage at the Mohawk.

No Age’s singles collection Weirdo Rippers was one of the more invigorating sets of 2007, deftly bridging a nostalgic love I didn’t know I had for early nineties for lo-fi, fuzzy-sock indie rock with more intense outbursts of raw underground punk. In fact, I could easily imagine this band being similarly buzzed about back in ’94. When friends today ask me what No Age sound like, I say “Slanted and Enchanted if Pavement were a hardcore band.”

I realize today that (as opposed to yesterday’s Raveonettes set) No Age have but one song, but it has two splendid, never tiresome parts. The first part offers swells of noise and oceanic feedback for one to two minutes, occasionally with loops of Randall’s slowly finger-picked lines and sound manipulation from Spunt, all of it slowly building up to the breaking point. A switch gets flipped and suddenly No Age bursts into the second part, an intense blast of mosh-pit godhead.

Well, in ideal circumstances, there would be a mosh pit. Perhaps the crowd is still too stuffed with Mexican food to move.


  1. Susan

    Oh, hell, it’s not that they’re too stuffed or full of free Miller Lite or whatever; crowds are just hard pressed to dance at SXSW. Too self-conscious. At No Age’s Sub Pop showcase set, which was pretty seriously underattended (probably due to the many other chances everyone had to see them), there were two or three hardcore fans jumping around up front while everyone else was hanging back. Still great, though.

  2. SuperUnison

    Agreed, one of the best things about seeing No Age live is the realization that they’re a great punk band at heart.

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