As I arrive at MTelus, the merch line is as long as I’ve ever seen it… and this is before the headliner has even played! The line spans the width of the room by the middle of the evening; perhaps everyone is anticipating that this will be their last chance to buy a NOFX tee? The band recently confirmed their plans to break up in 2023 after celebrating their 40-year anniversary as a band, so it’s not beyond the realms of possibility that this might be true!
However, before a note is even played, frontman Fat Mike puts all our minds at ease as soon as he arrives on stage: “this is not our last show in Montreal…but it’s probably our last time playing a club!” Interesting… so will they be back for a festival next summer? Heavy MTL, as in 2015? Perhaps ’77 will return, with them as headliners? The speculation starts now… but in any case, it’s good to know that this isn’t the end… yet!
The show is the usual mix of chaos and energy that you’ve come to expect from a NOFX show after all these years. After arriving on stage in a flurry of uncoordinated Rocky Horror Picture Show Time Warp choreography, the set explodes into life with Dinosaurs Will Die from the classic Pump Up The Valuum record, and the first crowd surfer of the night is a guy in a wheelchair, initially hanging on to his chair for dear life, before giving up and floating off in the opposite direction to it, atop the bouncing crowd. Credit to the security for reuniting them at the front once again! Fat Mike salutes his effort as soon as the song ends, commenting that he had just inadvertently invented “crowd wakeboarding!”
Things move so quickly during the 80-minute set, it’s more or less impossible to keep track of the setlist in any kind of detail. Indeed, at one point, Fat Mike declares, “we’re gonna do 10 songs in 5 minutes!”, prompting quick 20-second versions of classics such as F*** The Kids and Murder The Government. Six Years On Dope still sounds absolutely ferocious, Fat Mike’s leather kilt flailing in a spin while Eric Melvin breathless spits out the lyrical laundry list of diseases and medications. What other band could reference Impetigo, Valtrex, Penicillin, and Interferon in the same song?! The singalongs to Perfect Government and We’re The Brews blow the roof off MTelus while the floor section pummels the floorboards. Eat The Meek is just about the only calm moment the crowd gets to catch their breath during the whole show!
My personal favourite NOFX record, The War On Errorism, gets representation in the form of the incendiary Idiots Are Taking Over, that immense mix of punk with a dub-ska breakdown still hitting me in the feels just like it did when it first came out almost 20 years ago (!), as well as a couple of bars and lines of Franco Un-American merged into Quart In Session. Fat Mike readily admits right afterwards that the songs sound exactly the same: “sorry, I didn’t mean to write the same song twice!”
For sure, tonight’s raucous show reminds us just how much the NOFX club show experience will be sorely missed. Still, it’s not the end of the line just yet. Just before leaving the stage, Mike commands, “You better be at our last show next year!”
We wouldn’t miss it for the world!
Review – Simon Williams
Photos – Ryan Rumpel