I don’t normally curse in my reviews but… Fuck yes. Just simply, fuck yes. That’s all what I was left with at the end of the night. NOFX, Snuff and Bad Cop/Bad Cop put on one hell of a performance at the O2 Institute, Birmingham.
Starting with Californian female outfit Bad Cop/Bad Cop via their super happy and uplifting punk rock, they engaged the crowd with tight three part harmonies and snapping rhythms. Each personality in the band shone out as they gave nothing less than everything they had. The bass lines were creative, catchy and performed with huge character. Although most of their set was upbeat, moments of angst and anger that you’d expect in a punk show burst through to create a fulfilling performance all round.
One thing I absolutely love about these types of shows is the party that seems to be going on around the side and back of the stage. With buckets of booze behind the drum kit, crew and members of other bands emerge to simply go out and have a great time. It’s endearing and makes you want to be part of it and in these shows, everyone is part of it.
Next up were relatively local heroes Snuff. They are currently prepping for their new album release and this show was the perfect environment for them to show off their new creations. These songs are so new that one or two of them didn’t even have names yet. They blended well with the older material but stood out enough to show that Snuff are still getting better and better, churning out banging melodies and are able to hold a crowd in the palm of their hand.
The time it took to go from one song to the other was debatable and a couple of songs had to be restarted, but you know what? It didn’t matter. If there was anyone in the crowd looking for perfection, this wasn’t the show to be at. If you were looking for a fast, lively party with no prejudice or discrimination to look and dance how you want to, this was where you needed to be.
The distinctive lead vocals performed by a ridiculously quick drummer were spot on and downright impressive. They have a British-lad vibe to their brand of punk rock and this resonated across the venue and gave them an air of relatability. Continuing the unspoken theme of having a blast with your mates, Fat Mike and Linh Le joined them on stage, both playing bass for the gloriously titled “Arsehole”.
Dancing their way onto the stage backed by “Timewarp” from The Rocky Horror Picture Show, NOFX took a good while to get going. One member of the crowd behind me shouted for them to “play some fucking music” which actually produced a great segue way tightly into “60%” with the starting lyrics of “we’re not here to entertain you…”
Antics were aplenty with jumping, dancing, spinning and cups (and, strangely, money) being thrown onto and around the stage. A pot of hair wax was handed to an audience member with a Mohawk to straighten it after a lengthy discussion on its floppy nature. A chant of “you fat bastard” was sung from the crowd after Fat Mike hilariously took to insulting some members of the crowd. All of this and plenty more was taken from the band and the crowd exactly how it should have been. A laugh. It really did feel like a big group of friends gathered in a venue to have the best time.
Classic songs that spanned the entirety of NOFX’s career from “Linoleum” to new album opener “6 Years on Dope” were showcased and despite their lacklustre approach between songs, during the tracks NOFX played tight and smashed across the O2 Institute with ferocity. Where the reggae moments lacked pace, a booming bass tone gave them a huge boost and El Hefe’s forgetting to bring a trombone on tour for “We March To the Beat of Indifferent Drum” allowed him to use his voice to mimic the instrument stupidly well followed by a smooth guitar solo. NOFX really can play (when they concentrate).
It’s hard to believe how old some of these songs are and at no point did it feel that the band was just going through the motions, playing them to get to the end of the show.
The crowd was really going for it through the entire show. There was pure joy across their pierced faces and not a single coloured Mohawk was left standing by the end of it.
Photos by Watchmaker Studios