It's always fun searching online for bands that play local all ages shows. Especially difficult is finding one at a small club-like venue. Not to worry for Chris, Ben, and I as we noticed No Age, an LA based noise rock band we saw back in July, scheduled to play at the Middle East Downstairs. Recalling No Age as one of the more preeminent live acts we've seen, we didn't hesitate to make the journey to Cambridge on Monday night.
Act One: Silk Flowers - I didn't really know what to expect from this trio. Judging from looks alone, I saw diversity. The guy on the left with the long hair seemed more apt as a 90s garage rock guitarist than a synthesizist (no such word, is there?). The center-man was just kind of there. That's not a bad thing. He was doing some heavy duty rocking out and I greatly admire that. The dude on the left handling the drum machine (and singing...if we can call it that), who I figured out is Aviram Cohen, reminded me of Mr. O'Brien in his youth (not that I know what O'Brien looked like back then). The group showed flashes of potential with catchy dub beats and a tribute (or seemingly so) to the post-punk/industrial scene of the '80s. I recall Ben comparing their music to '70s horror music, a fairly accurate comparison. I admittedly heard more Palm (the electronic one-man band from the first No Age show) than Kraftwerk. Overall, it was quite a respectable performance for a three song set.
Act Two: Soft Circle - Guitar. Drums. Electronic Percussion. Vocals. Hiram Akira Bharoocha can literally do it all...in one song at that. He picks up the guitar and plays a one or two minute riff. He then goes over to the electronic percussion kit and mixes a string of noise. All the while he records a spacey chant. With the guitar riff, percussion noise, and vocals all on loop, he picks up his drum sticks and starts going nuts. Being able to do all of this effectively proves he is a masterful musician, but what impressed me even more were the songs themselves. They were more dub than anything else, but the heavy drum was really the kicker. Watch out for Soft Circle. That's all I have to say.
Act Three: No Age - Words really can't describe how good No Age is live. You kind of have to be there. Further, you kind of have to be in the front row. Starting things off with "Keechie" -- an experimental and instrumental track off their 2008 highly acclaimed CD release Nouns -- was a bit unexpected, but proved to be a great segue into more heavier, noise driven tunes. The crowd, rather shiftless during Silk Flowers and Soft Circle, went into an uproar as soon as Dean Allen Spunt, the drummer/vocalist, began pounding the bass drum. Randy Randall's near flawless guitar play was an excellent complement as usual. Lesser known songs like "Brain Burner", "Cappo", and "Sleeper Hold" drew great crowd involvement in the form of head banging and dancing while more popular songs like "Here Should Be My Home", "Eraser", and "Ripped Knees" put everyone into a comfortable position to rock out and bang into each other. Two particularly awesome moments I recall were: Randy Randall playing "Eraser" right in front of me (I could've and should've memorized the chords) and an attractive female, approximately my age, dancing and throwing herself around with ease (whilst not giving any shit at all). I was a little disappointed when No Age left the stage having not played the classic "Everybody's Down." Of course, they came back for an encore. The first encore included Aviram Cohen on vocals singing a cover of G.G Allin's "Don't Talk To Me." That was pretty much out of the blue, but awesome, and went along well with the pace of the previous set of songs. The second encore was in fact "Everybody's Down." This is definitely one of No Age's better songs (Chris would argue its their best) and ended in a spectacularly awesome way -- Randall crowd surfing while finishing the final minute of the song on guitar. He was thrown back on the stage and the concert ended. Amazing. Oh yeah, Aviram gave Ben and I high-fives. That was cool.
Final Comment: 3rd Best Concert Of All Time (Following Radiohead and Dinosaur. Jr/Meat Puppets/Built to Spill)