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OFF! at Station 4 – October 28, 2012

31 Oct

By: Connor McDaniel

“And no, I didn’t talk to Glenn Danzig!”

This was among one of many insights offered by Keith Morris of OFF! throughout their set at Station 4 last Sunday. They released their first “full length” in May (it’s sixteen minutes long), and this is the first full fledged tour they’ve gone on since then. Having sold out the Triple Rock the last time they came through town April of last year, expectations were high for a similar turnout if not better, with Station 4’s capacity being slightly higher. Unfortunately, due to some obvious issues, things didn’t go quite as well as one might’ve hoped.

Opening the show at around 8:20 PM was Double Negative, a hardcore supergroup that not all too long ago lost their original drummer and vocalist. With roughly fifty people on the floor and with the lights going off for thirty seconds, they began playing with little warning, with no lighting, and with the OFF! drum kit looming over them on its riser. With so much stage space taken up by this riser, the band was cramped to say the least. It didn’t seem to matter however, blazing through their set of “USHC” in roughly fifteen minutes. The band didn’t seem to care all too much that they were on stage, acting as if they were fulfilling an obligation, mentioning every now and then that they would be finished soon. Just as well, it seemed only one member of the audience was even aware that this band was on stage at all, with most everyone that was near the front of the stage itself only there to save a spot for later. This, combined with awful sound (the guitar being nearly inaudible) made for a less than stellar showing overall.

People seemed split on this band, either coming for them specifically, citing them as better than OFF!, and others sticking to the bar, calling the band “derivative.” This is a bit odd to me, OFF! not only sounds very similar to Double Negative, so how they could be contrasted either way is very bizarre. Unless judging on stage presence (which Double Negative had very little of outside of the vocalist looking a bit upset), they are nearly the same band, so how Double Negative could be better or worse is an odd comparison, and on the other hand OFF!’s entire career is based off the fact that they sound exactly like “Nervous Breakdown”-era Black Flag and feature a punk “superstar.” With that in mind, how you could think of any band as more “derivative” than that is beyond my comprehension.

Speaking of derivative, The Spits were the next band on the bill. After deploying a heavy wall of smoke machine fog for a few minutes, two strobe lights began flashing on the stage. These lights illuminated what appeared to be a massive skull, hung over the top of OFF!’s drum kit. The two lights continued flashing for three or four minutes before the band actually came out, now with red and blue lights joining behind them, with the stage caked in fog by this point. The group is known for wearing costumes, and this time decided to go with medieval style brown robes, which created a very Halloween appropriate vibe, though the skull brought back memories of Spinal Tap more than anything else. Regardless, the set began with a shout of “One, two, three, four!” clearly calling back to the Ramones. Bad sound plagued the first two or so songs in a similar fashion to Double Negative’s issues (which had never been resolved), but were amended by a member of the crowd shouting for the guitars to be turned up, which the guitarist Sean Wood echoed to the soundman.

It’s important to note that the strobe lights I mentioned earlier weren’t running just for a few minutes, but rather the entire show, as were the fog machines. This, combined with strobing of blue and red lights, created a very interesting visual effect, silhouetting the members of the band with outlines that made it appear as if you were meant to put on 3D glasses. Musically they combined the Ramones and the Misfits, members switching off on vocal duties, but all seeming to be doing their best Joey Ramone impression. Tight musicianship combined with creative and fun lighting made for a clever and memorable performance.

Photo by Katie Hovland

OFF!’s set began not all too longer after, and lasted a rough thirty minutes. The band somewhat notoriously has about five songs in their entire discography that last any longer than a minute, and literally no songs that reach two minutes. Keith, as per usual, took out a good chunk of time between every few songs to speak, (and to respond to quite literally anyone who yelled something at the stage (mostly “shut up and play”)) with topics ranging from 3rd parties, voting, old age, and the eighties. Even with these pauses in the action, the band performed for far under the standard amount of time you’d expect from a headline set.

That all said and done, outside of the shortness of the set and the occasional heckler that perhaps didn’t need to be acknowledged (but still was, naturally, by Keith), OFF!’s performance was well received by the audience, a circle pit going through the entire set. The sound, unlike the first two sets, was great, and the band put on a very energetic and fun show as a whole, despite a somewhat low turnout, blazing through favorites such as “Panic Attack” and “Feelings are Meant to be Hurt.” At this point it’s also worth noting that the barricade that Station 4 usually has up front was removed and placed in the back of the room, allowing the crowd to come right up next to the stage and eliminating the pit that is usually occupied by photographers. I only mention this because it was absolutely hilarious to see photographers with massive expensive camera gear squished up against the front of the stage, being pummeled by a constant circle pit.

It was a bit surprising when the band made it very clear they were in no mood for an encore, as the front lights came on immediately after the band finished performing. Though the show went for barely three hours with a $20 ticket price, those who came to see a legend perform got exactly what they asked for.

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