NOFX

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author PP date 02/06/12 venue Siesta Festival, Hässleholm, SWE

Siesta Festivalen takes place in an urban setting in the middle of Hässleholm, a small Swedish city in the southern part of the country, which usually caters to an audience of approximately 10,000 people each year, featuring mostly hip hop, electronic music, indie, radio rock, and that sort of thing. The odd metal and punk band has been featured on occasion, and this year the honor fell on NOFX. It's a steep price to pay 795 SEK just to see NOFX, but after a coin flip yours truly and a friend decided to make the drive over because, well, what's the worst that could happen? Turns out the result was the best possible outcome for a NOFX fan.

NOFX @ Fiesta! stage

As usual, Fat Mike & co arrive on stage a few minutes before their set is due to begin and start their usual shit talking, which includes admitting he has no idea what city he is in so he'll just refer to us as Malmö to the amusement of the audience. In the meantime I'm looking around the stage that has the official capacity of 14,000 according to the festival itself, and I see perhaps 200 people at tops occupying the vast grass/asphalt area in front of the stage. These are, of course, the die-hard NOFX fans, a few who admit to doing exactly what we did and buying a ticket only to see this show when I ask them, but nonetheless the stage is almost empty and certainly the smallest NOFX show I've seen to date. The band knows this, too, and immediately after coming on stage Fat Mike proclaims "eeeey! Look at all these people who showed up today!", clearly well aware that most festival attendees have never heard a single NOFX song in their lives.

Small crowd...image taken from front barrier backwards

So they start with "60%" that's quickly followed by "We Called It America", before Fat Mike stops the set and says something about playing "Punk In Drublic" that most people in the crowd take as complete bullshit thinking along the lines of "yeah...suuuuure...we'll get maybe Linoleum, Don't Call Me White, and maybe Leave It Alone if we're lucky" since NOFX is renowned for saying so much crap on stage night in night out. Sure enough, "Linoleum" follows, and then immediately after the band plays "Leave It Alone" and the tiny contingent of NOFX fans in the crowd start scratching their heads and wondering if this is some sort of elaborate joke where they'll play a few songs just to tease us. Because what purpose would it serve to play one of the greatest punk rock albums in the history of the genre from start to finish, which has only been done once before (a week earlier in Las Vegas, it turns out), in this god forsaken place instead of, say, Groezrock, West Coast Riot, Download, or any of the other massive festivals that are sure to include thousands upon thousands of NOFX fans waiting for this very moment ever since they first listened to the classic 1994 album?

Then someone in the crowd is talking about having a birthday a little too loudly and Fat Mike immediately pauses everything and asks "is it really your birthday today?" after making fun of some clowns wearing bright colours to the side of the audience. "We're just gonna pause Punk In Drublic for a brief moment people", he says, before the band plays "New Happy Birthday Song?" which goes something along the lines of "Happy birthday, you're not special", but at this very moment the people in the crowd are starting to look at each other in complete disbelief. Could they really be playing THE punk album from start to finish today? Here, out of ALL possible venues in the world?.

And sure enough, that's exactly what is happening. "Dig" and "The Cause" follow, and the small NOFX crowd goes mental and the mosh pit intensifies as people realize it is really happening tonight. NOFX are playing "Punk In Drublic" from start to finish, which has to be some sort of purposeful troll towards their own fan base who clearly isn't here today. We all know that the band are assholes from both on and off-stage commentary, so this could be their ultimate joke on their fan base by playing their undeniably best record of their enormous back catalogue 18 years after its release in front of just a few hundred people. Those of us who are here, of course, have almost tears in our eyes as we begin to high-five strangers in the crowd, everyone in an eclectic, "I can't believe this is happening"-kind of state of mind.

"You know, this album is over hyped", Fat Mike says in his usual patronizing manner, "I mean it's good, but it's no Heavy Petting Zoo or Wolves...", before proceeding to play "The Brews", yet another highlight of the set. We're getting everything tonight; from the joke songs "My Heart Is Yearning", through the rarely played but nonetheless classic "Dying Degree" and the reggae-inspired "Reeko", not to even mention "Don't Call Me White", "Jeff Wears Birkenstocks" and all the other fantastic songs from the album. Only "Lori Meyers" is missing, but I'm guessing the band simply forgot to include it because at this point Fat Mike is on his third red drink (the classic plastic cup attached to his mic stand) that nobody knows the contents of.

Normally the band spends a considerable amount of time during their set to talk to the audience, but tonight that's kept to a minimum (on their standards), and the band actually focus on playing their songs. Tonight isn't one of those entertaining nights in terms of in-between song banter, and it's working, because the songs are so good that the singalongs in the small crowd echo around the pit, so everyone's thinking the same thing: tonight has to be one of the greatest NOFX shows we've seen to date.

It's true. They are still their offensive selves, but they limit themselves enough to play at least 26 songs (17 of which are, of course "Punk In Drublic") from my rough count, and what's more, the songs that follow the album are among the best the band has written during their career: "Seeing Double At The Triple Rock", "Murder The Government", "Bob", "Stickin' In My Eye" and others are all aired, marking tonight without a doubt the greatest NOFX set list I've seen to date. In fact everything about the show is so awesome that it bothers no-one that they finish with their rather tired charade of accordion-wielding Eric Melvin being fielded off the stage by the crew after supposedly 'not stopping playing' at the end of "Theme From A NOFX Album". All the fans present agree in unison: NOFX still have it in them. What a glorious night to be a NOFX fan indeed.

9

Setlist:

  • 1. 60%
  • 2. We Called It America
  • 3. Murder the Government
  • 4. I'm Telling Tim
  • 5. Linoleum
  • 6. Leave It Alone
  • 7. My Heart Is Yearning
  • 8. New Happy Birthday Song?
  • 9. The Quass
  • 10. Dying Degree
  • 11. Fleas
  • 12. Lori Meyers
  • 13. Scavenger Type
  • 14. Perfect Government
  • 15. Punk Guy
  • 16. The Cause
  • 17. Reeko
  • 18. Don't Call Me White
  • 19. Jeff Wears Birkenstocks
  • 20. The Brews
  • 21. Eat the Meek
  • 22. Seeing Double at the Triple Rock
  • 23. Franco Un-American
  • 24. Bob
  • 25. Stickin' in My Eye
  • 26. Theme From a NOFX Album

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