Monday, January 26, 2009

#3: No Age-Nouns

This Los Angeles band made waves and waves of buzz last year, and rightly, perhaps strangely so. No Age, along with bands like Mika Miko, are a centerpiece of a strong DIY punk scene that has blossomed in Los Angelees, revolving aroun based the all ages, volunteer run music venue The Smell. The band is only made up of two people, a guitarist and a drummer, and for those of you who would view them as simply a "duo" or a somehow incomplete band, just a couple of lame guys who couldn't find a bassist but wanted to bang out noise nonetheless, y'all are sorely mistaken. They blow apart and in many ways redefine the limitations that a band's size can have on the music they put out. They've been described as a perfect blend of Husker Du and My Bloody Valentine and I guess that's about right. With a number of tunes that make for immediately re-playable short punk songs, and a few songs of beautiful ambient interlude, this is an easy one to play from beginning to end. Their live performances are ones to remember. With the instantly relate-able, i'm-sure-i've-heard-this-before, positive and inspiring nature of their songs, the crowd at their shows plays an equal part in creating the boundless energy in the room.

I saw them for the first time at the Bowery Ballroom last fall during CMJ, playing alongside Dan Deacon, Deerhunter, White Williams and Ponytail, and they seriously tore the roof off that place. After seeing them three more times during the week of SXSW, all before Nouns even came out, I was hooked. My memories of seeing their set at the Sub Pop showcase will keep me warm when I am old and cold. After a long and exhausting day walking around the streets of Austin, my friends Tim an Liz and I decided to give it our all during their set. There weren't that many people there for some reason, so after a good number of gin and tonics, we started dancing our asses off with no apology while the rest of the crowd stood around, likely burnt out and jaded after having already seen dozens and dozens of other bands that week (SXSW will do that to you). We looked across the room and saw a couple other people dancing, and lo and behold it was Dan from Wolf Parade and his wife, who make up The Handsome Furs, who had just played earlier that night. I ran over to them and asked if they wanted to come dance with us, since we were the only other people dancing there. They eagerly joined us and we spent the rest of the set jumping around, making the metal hand signs during the sweet guitar feedback, heckling No Age to play Vampire Weekend covers (to which the drummer responded "this song is by Vampire Weekend, it's called "I'm a college dick!," and then immediately refuted his statement so as to perhaps avoid drama in the blogosphere), and all around having a great time. I took off my shirt cause I was so sweaty and then their drummer said on the mic "dude, where's your shirt?" Then the guitarist shook our hands after the show and we gave the Handsome Furs hugs and Tim, in a high pitched shrieking voice just yelled "I LOVE YOU!"

It's pretty cool to see an all ages scene like the one in L.A. blowing up and making serious waves around the country and the world. In my mind, the success of No Age is a reflection of the powerful inertia that the DIY punk community can create. Throughout their brushes with success, they have brought their ethics and their sense of where they came from every step along the way. I hope they continue to make powerful statements like Nouns for years to come. Below is a sweet video of them playing in Baltimore.

"Teen Creeps" off of Nouns

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