Crank the dial up to 11.
Last night’s show at MHOW demonstrated that Sub Pop’s original focus on “the Seattle sound,” complete with raunchy, sweaty shows, still lives on. Although No Age hails from modern-day Los Angeles, the experimental punk/noise duo (guitarist Randy Randall and drummer/vocalist Dean Allen Spunt) played like they had the Northwest in the 1990s on their minds. Spunt and Randall pulled out all the stops, throwing themselves into the music, transforming the crowd into a maelstrom of physical passion, i.e., mosh pit overdrive.
Spunt and Randall took the stage under pitch black lighting, except for two lone, dim red lights. Randall began the set with ambient guitar-picking loops, slowly linking one arpeggio after another. For any fan unaware of the band’s discography, this would appear to be the intro to a post-rock, Explosions In The Sky-eque show. But then that fan might notice the gargantuan stack of four or five Marshall amps behind Randall, and the three behind Spunt’s drum kit microphone. And the microphones in front of both stacks.
After about a minute and a half of Randall’s pure guitar looping, Spunt entered the musical fray with a single, somewhat off-tempo snare drum. The lo-fi audio began to take hold, with a low but loud mechanical whirring lurking in the background. While the guitar-pickings continued, Spunt gathered speed and dynamic power, eventually catching up to his partner. At their tangency, raw power and distortion emerged and something snapped in the crowd, unleashing the beginnings of the pit.
No Age quickly segued into the instrumental intro to Circling With Dizzy off the band’s recent release An Object. The crowd, amped with mosh pit spirit, began smashing into each other—literally. At first, the pit was slightly disorganized: fists and hands went flying, heads clonked, and one large fan dance-moshed invincibly, with people bouncing off his body as he grinned happily, moving to the musical noise. Fortunately, the crowd eventually realized its rhythmic errors, and instead followed the music’s tempo. Each face in the audience wore an expression that fell somewhere in between agony and sheer joy.
While the crowd members went for each others’ jugulars (or whatever body parts they managed to make contact with) or danced along ecstatically sans pain, No Age properly fed the crowd’s appreciation with track after track of nearly pure distortion and noise instrumentals. Although Spunt shouted into his mic, his words were just murmurs against the multi-stack drumstick smashes and distortion-loaded power chords. Midway through the set, Spunt announced it was time for “some new songs,” and abandoned his drum kit temporarily for the bass. During No Generator, the low but heavy bass riffs brashly coupled with guitar chops, shook the venue (and even rattled the drummer-less drums). After playing a few fuzz-heavy An Object tracks (I Won’t Be Your Generator and A Ceiling Dreams Of A Floor) and some oldies, Spunt eventually returned to his trusty drum kit to finish off the set, ending it with one of the band’s more punk-rooted songs, Miner.
Sticking a fork in the back of traditional encores, Spunt, exhausted and dripping with sweat, announced to the audience, “We’re done with our original set!” The crowd members demonstrated their need for more songs, some yelling, some slamming their hands on their stage, and some jumping, tantrum-like. No Age, definitely being the type that aims to please, could not turn down the request. Stomping on the distortion pedals, the duo began a two-song encore, giving the crowd a chance to enjoy a few more moments of noise rock-induced physical squalor. It was damn well appreciated, and the crowd gave the band a hero’s farewell as Spunt and Randall dragged themselves off stage.
Photos by Suyi Tay.