Yesterday, Los Angeles’ favorite DIY vegan noise punk duo No Age was nominated for a Grammy Award. If that sounds like the most insane thing in the world to you, that’s because it is—No Age is the most anti-Grammy Award band on the whole damn long list of nominations, and yet there they are, next to Metallica and Coldplay and the Jonas Brothers and every other major player in the whole stinking industry.
The guys in No Age can look at the non-musical nod as a badge of honor; a sort of affirmation that their actual music will probably never get recognized by the asinine nomination process of the Grammy Awards. You know the only Grammy Thelonious Monk ever won in his lifetime, for 1968’s Underground? It was for the same category that No Age is nominated in: Best Recording Package. Not for his music.
Last night at the Rickshaw Stop, No Age didn’t mention the Grammy Nomination from the stage. And for a band now officially noted worldwide for wrapping their music in a pretty package, well, they didn’t do that either. Instead they played a rambunctious 17-song set for a mostly staid crowd that for the first half of the show just stood there, barely moving. “Come on!” yelled drummer Dean Spunt, frustrated at the stone-faced wall of people. “You guys gotta work in the mornin’ or somethin’?! Loosen up! I said loosen up!”
The crowd eventually did loosen up, with multiple stagedives, bodies falling on the stage, and general dancing abandon. But by then it was too late to ignore what’s become No Age’s big problem: They’ve gotten too much mainstream attention for a band that belongs in basements instead of clubs. There are 100 other bands in the country like No Age, and getting plucked out of the pool and thrust into the limelight doesn’t seem to suit them, any more than being nominated for a Grammy Award does, or playing for a room of people with their arms folded, all thinking okay, guys, show me what you got.
Mitigating circumstances, too, made it an uphill battle. The night was a showcase for an upstart online music site owned by Hot Topic, and the band was introduced by a guy who dropped the phrases “business partnership” and “dot-com” way more than anyone at a show should have to bear. But No Age ultimately prevailed, passing their guitar to be mangled by the hands of the crowd, passing themselves to be levitated by the arms of the crowd, and re-creating a reasonable facsimile of the abandon found at basements, all-ages volunteer clubs and house parties for their trademark closer, “Everybody’s Down.” I’m down with that.
I’m equally down with Titus Andronicus, actually, who opened the show and won me over with their weary, Westerberg-like eight-minute anthem that they dedicated to the Louisiana Purchase. And incidentally, how can Nouns get nominated for Best Packaging—and the unbelievable, amazing designs by Southern Lord get overlooked? Just sayin’.
More Photos and Set List Below.
For this edition of On the Stereo, we welcome my friend and fellow record collector Gerry Stumbaugh. Gerry’s worked at the Last Record Store in Santa Rosa for almost ten years now, and he’s hosted the Left of the Dial radio show on KRCB for eight years. His preferred format is 7”s, bless his heart, and while he pounded Negro Modelos and I macked down on some El Farolito, we hung out and listened to nothing but 7”s.
I have to warn you—this play-by-play goes on forever. Click after the jump at your own risk. We’re record nerds. Lots of swearing, too. Sorry, Dad.
Included are discussions of 7”s by Themes, Bikini Kill, the Gaslamp Killer, Ratatat, Built to Spill, Santogold, No Age, Spank Rock, Screeching Weasel and Navy of the Nice, along with tangential excursions into Mexican snack treats, the unusual breakfast diet of Mike Watt, and the follies of WCW Tag Team Wrestling.