I don't go every year. In fact, I've only gone to five: '97, '99, '00, '03 and '04. It gets to be a bigger ordeal every year, and unless there is a headlining band that I really, really like, I don't care to watch eight million bands I'll never see again. Occasionally, I'll become a fan of a band I've never heard of after seeing them on the Warped Tour (Tha Alkaholics in '97, Flogging Molly in '00), but mostly, I wait around to see bands I listened to as a kid, which sort of makes me feel like my mom, who recently went to see Bob Dylan. I missed out on a lot of concerts in high school, so while my friends have vivid memories of Rancid at the Warfield or Pennywise at the Crest Theater, I don't. I have to see these bands a decade after I should have, but better late than never, right?
This year NOFX is headlining, and I can't wait. I've never seen them live; the closest I've come was at the 2000 Warped Tour, when I needed only to direct my attention to the other stage when Long Beach Dub Allstars finished their set. Instead, I got a call from my girlfriend at the time, more or less demanding to know when I was coming to pick her up. A week later, that girlfriend would bang her roommate's visiting friend and totally lie about it, so needless to say, I should never have even bothered to answer the phone. If that story wasn't so uninteresting or long, I'd probably tell it to Fat Mike and offer him my sincerest apologies, if I ever get to meet him.
Anyway, I quit listening to NOFX because of two albums: Heavy Petting Zoo and OK Computer. Heavy Petting Zoo was a huge disappointment. It has exactly three listenable songs: "Filthy Phil Philanthropist," "Hot Dog in a Hallway" and "Bleeding Heart Disease"; the rest of it pretty much blows. It didn't make sense to me that a band that got better with every subsequent release could churn out such a turd. Of course, I was a rabid Led Zeppelin fan between 1992 and 1994, and when you consider that the last three Zeppelin records get progressively worse, my displeasure with NOFX is a little illogical and kind of unfair. Regardless of that, though, I lost interest in them, especially after I bought OK Computer.
Now, I don't like Radiohead very much any more, but I used to like them a lot. I love The Bends and I love OK Computer, and I have a lot of really fond memories of both, but after the audio equivalent of "The Emperor's New Clothes," I dropped them like an angry cat. By now I may have painted myself as a fickle fan, but I'm really not; Kid A and Amnesiac are good records, but not as good as OK Computer, and certainly not as goddamn good as every music critic (except Nick Hornby, bless him) insisted they were. Plus, I got tired of Thom Yorke's neverending anti-american pontificating. Doesn't he have his own country to shake his finger at? I'm just saying is all.
OK Computer is the only concept album I have ever paid attention too. Other than humoring people who insist that "The Dark Side of Oz" is something other than deterministic pot-talk, I've never bothered with concept albums, with the possible exception of The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust, since it's on my need-to-get-and-give-a-good-going-over list. I'm not even sure that OK Computer qualifies as a concept album, since there doesn't seem to be a central character or whatever. It is obviously unified in theme (THOM YORKE IS AFRAID OF TECHNOLOGY! SO MUCH THAT HE MADE TWO TECHNO ALBUMS), and my sophomore-year roommate insisted it was a concept album ("a paranoid song-cycle about the soulless mechanization of modern life" Really, Andy? And you say you didn't read that in Rolling Stone?), so for my intents and purposes, that's what it is. The main point of all of this is that after I had digested it, I pretty much decided that I had outgrown the Fat phase of my life.
Then one night in 2003, I went into this bar on 7th street that had one of those mp3 jukeboxes. I went in and loaded it up with Sublime and Bad Religion and Dropkick Murphys, and the bartender and I got to talking about mid '90s punk, and he wanted to know what I thought about the new NOFX album (which, at the time, was The War on Errorism. I of course, had not bothered to listen to it, so he lent it to me, and I was immediately hooked. And since acquiring an iPod, I've been playing catch up with all the releases I've missed. A brief recap:
- So Long and Thanks for All the Shoes is decent. Darth Vato might start covering "Eat the Meek," though Eric does not know it yet.
- Pump Up the Valium wins big.
- 45 or 46 Songs has about 25 songs worth hearing
- I totally missed out on the 7" of the Month Club
- Never Trust a Hippy is also great, though it's more or less a continuation of War on Errorism.
- I haven't gotten Wolves in Wolves Clothing yet, but I'm reviewing it for the Weekly. I hate the album art, though.
- The live album is still my favorite.
They made a video for "Seeing Double at the Triple Rock," and it's not awesome, but it's got me amped about seeing them live. Go see it here.