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No Age, Levitt Pavilion in MacArthur Park, Thursday, July 21, 2011

Before the Black Flag craziness during the No Age concert at the Levitt Pavilion in MacArthur Park, the ambiance was already extremely intense and the crowd interesting to watch. This location seemed to be perfect for this punk show since it has been the site of the May Day Mêlée in 2007, a rally calling for U.S. citizenship for illegal immigrants which turned a little rowdy with anarchists throwing rocks and bottles at officers, and finally a big clash between protestors and the LAPD.

No Age can indeed bring chaos on stage with a minimum of people (it’s a duo à la Black Keys) and a minimum of moves, as Randy Randall on guitar hardly changed position, and of course singer Dean Spunt had to stay behind his drum set.
They were not even taking a breath between songs, Spunt was kicking his drums with a real stamina while singing a set heavy on ‘Nouns’ tunes (I could not see or even get close to the setlist unfortunately), and Randal was standing in front of his mic, his long hair hiding his face most of the time, doing a little of jumping and sometimes moving toward the drums, but looking almost impassible in front of the outburst of energy around him.

The mosh pit, which had already started with the first band playing that night, was growing intensively and people who were stuck between the moshers and the stage were nervously head banging their forehead against the floor of the stage at the risk to give themselves a self-induced cranial trauma.

Contrarily to some punk band, it was not the duo’s stage presence that made the crowd wild, only the music was fueling that rage and crazy behavior. And the music did not sound like coming from two people, it really sounded layered, hypnotic and very loud. At two, they made chaos seem calculated and organized, going from noise pop to punk tunes nervously but efficiently executed. Many songs were short and were received more or less violently by the crowd, but stage diving was a sport that many practiced all over the set, despite the interdiction made by security people.

It was as if the duo had let the most experimental of their songs apart, and had gone for their most straightforward punk dynamic, but they still sounded less raw than your average punk band, as beautiful melodic riffs repeatedly arose from this noisy distortion and cacophony, with vocals quite buried into the music.

And when Morris and Dukowski joined them on stage to close their set with 6 Black Flag songs – the closest you could get to a Black Flag reunion – it sounded so logical after all, and everyone understood it: two older guys with two younger guys making history in one super group, and putting the stage on fire; even a man on wheel chair landed on the stage in front of me (did he crowd surf??). People front row were one solid body, my feet were not touching the ground anymore and Keith Morris had this discourse, just after he had repeated an order from the security to stay off the stage:

‘You security people, could you just please stand where you're at and not move?’

Who said punk was dead already?

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