House of Blues – San Diego
April 14, 2016
Love them or hate them, no one does NOFX quite as well as NOFX does.
If you don’t know the band, that might not make sense. If you do, you’re probably nodding in agreement right now.
For 95 percent of the crowd that filled the sold-out House of Blues in San Diego on Thursday night (and likely the crowds in Riverside and LA for the next two days), the punk icons put on the exact kind of humorous and spontaneous show they expected. The other handfuls of people who got dragged to the Hepatitis Bathtub Tour probably left puzzled and unamused, but that’s just how NOFX likes it.
More than nearly any other band, NOFX is consistent. After some brief lessons and turmoil at the beginning of their 33-year career (as outlined in detail in their new tour-causing book, The Hepatitis Bathtub and Other Stories), NOFX hasn’t changed much. The lineup is the same. The music is (more or less) the same. The fans are the same. Their popularity has stayed so steady over the last couple of decades that it seems like a new NOFX fan is born every time one stops listening to the band.
That consistency is exactly why so much of the House of Blues’ crowd had already begun moshing and crowd surfing when the quartet awkwardly stepped on to the stage with no music. Whether it was planned or not, singer/bassist/usual spokesman Fat Mike and guitarist (and sometimes singer) El Hefe spent a few minutes teasing a few folks in the crowd and just generally chatting before beginning the set with “Dinosaurs Will Die” just a few minutes after 10 p.m.
Over the next 80 minutes, the show alternated between blasting through much of the band’s catalog of songs less than 3 minutes long and poking fun at just about anyone they could think of (with the occasional break for El Hefe to sing Big Sean’s “I Don’t Fuck with You”). Whether it was specific people in the crowd, the various members of the band, other bands (such as Sublime and Slightly Stoopid, on separate occasions), or anyone else Fat Mike could think of it appeared as no one was safe from ridicule that night.
It was exactly what NOFX fans have come to expect and love.
Although the crowd was visibly more excited for the band’s hits and classics than some of the newer and lesser-known material, the energy through the first half-hour rarely slowed. The highlights of the first half of the set were “Linoleum,” “Murder the Government,” and Fat Mike declaring that those on the ground level and in the mosh pit were “the real San Diego” while the fans watching from the balcony were more representative of Chula Vista.
It was after “Leave It Alone” that the high-octane punks slowed their set down for the first time with “Eat the Meek” before making fun of a Middle Eastern fan for the second time of the night as an intro for “72 Hookers.” “New songs are good,” Fat Mike explained just before launching into the track from their Self Entitled album. “Just pretend like you like it.” The band then stayed with the 2012 record for “I Believe in Goddess,” which the singer dedicated to his wife even though she missed her flight to get to the show.
The latter part of the set was marked by jokes about dead parents leading into “What’s the Matter with Parents Today?” and a new song about their deceased friend (and No Use for a Name frontman) Tony Sly. The initial set then ended with Fat Mike telling everyone they’d be back in 3 minutes and ending with a singalong of “Perfect Government.”
The encore (during which the now-sober drummer, Smelly, came back on stage early while the rest of the band was presumably drinking) started with “Franco Unamerican” and also saw fan favorites like “Bob” and “The Brews.”
Ultimately, it would’ve been nice to see classics like “Don’t Call Me White” and maybe some favorites like “The Separation of Church and Skate,” but it was also cool to see some of the brand new material. And really, if NOFX gave the fans every song they wanted to hear in a night, it wouldn’t be very NOFX of them, would it?
Dinosaurs Will Die
Seeing Double at the Triple Rock
Fuck the Kids
Murder the Government
Leave It Alone
Eat the Meek
I Believe in Goddess
Quart in Session
What’s the Matter with Parents Today?
Stickin’ in My Eye
Six Years on Dope
I’m Telling Tim
Bottles to the Ground
I Wanna Be An Alcoholic