Punk rockers of all shapes, sizes, and age filled up the Madison Theater last Friday night to see the Fermented & Flailing Tour in Covington, KY. The tour, featuring long time independent punkers NOFX with special guests Teenage Bottlerocket as well as Tony Sly of No Use For A Name (NUFAN), did not make it to Northern Ohio during this tour as much as I would have like it to have, but I did the next best thing and drove 4 hours to the tour and do not regret it one bit.
I was highly bummed out when I arrived to Covington in the afternoon as I found out first hand that another band that has been touring with them, The Menzingers, were cancelling their performance that night due to food poisoning. I was actually on the phone with Greg, the guitarist of the band, trying to set up an interview with them before the show when he informed me that they were behind in schedule and considering going to a hospital as their drummer, and friend, was not in good shape. As much as I wished I could have seen this amazing up and coming band I understood the situation and wish them luck. There is always a next time.
The Madison Theater was packed by the time I got there and after scoping out the area and seeing how inconvenient the photo area was I decided to forfeit the idea of getting up close and snapping some shots of the bands. As much as I wanted to it just was not a good idea. The stage overlapped the sectioned off area and there was hardly enough room for the bouncers to stand there and do their thing. Not to mention this venue did not have adequate isles or areas where people could move freely around the sides. I made my choice and was ok with it. I was still able to snap off a couple shots but more importantly I still was going to enjoy the show.
Locals Loudmouth opened the night with their impressive 90’s inspired pop punk / ska sounds. There were a ton of fans in the house that were very aware of who this act was who hail from the Cincinnati / Covington areas. Their lead singer admitted that he had “whiskey hawk” in between songs and pointed at the green mat of hair on his head promising that he tried to get it up over and over. The band clearly was stoked to be sharing the stage with members of the Fat Wreck Chords family and put forth a great set. I am kicking myself still as I missed their merch table after the show but I plan on looking into these guys some more very soon.
Tony Sly, seasoned punk rocker and front man of NUFAN, took the stage with his acoustic guitar in hand and informed the crowd he wanted to play some songs. The response some of the crowd gave him was disrespectful as they booed him. Sly did not let that bother him and played songs off this new album such as “Keira” and “Already Won”. I know I was excited to hear “Toaster In The Bathtub” and “Soulmate”, a NUFAN cover that I could not help but sing along with.
I cannot say that everyone in house was rude to him but there were enough drunk fools around where I was that just went overboard making fun of him to make my blood boil. Perhaps an acoustic set was not what those concert goers were looking for that night but I think what pissed me off the most was that all the folk who were mocking and booing him literally had no idea who he was. This guy helped pave the punk rock road that these kids were standing on and they had no idea who he was – I guess I just wish those coming to early conclusions could have been a little more educated.
The brave Sly continued through his set and thanked everyone for listening to him. An intimate performance down the street at Molly Malone’s may have been more appropriate for his set but honestly I was not complaining and was thrilled to have finally seen him live on his own. Still I could not believe how many so-called punk rockers booed him…
Power pop punks Teenage Bottlerocket (TBR) delivered a killer set opening with “Skate Or Die” and pretty much did not break until their last song. Their punk rock thrash assault on the crowd had the tightly packed venue going insane with tracks like “Bigger Than Kiss”, “I Don’t Wanna Go” and of course brought more calamity when they announced they were going to play “30 Seconds Of Rad” and commanded all to a pogo throw-down. Their set was fun, fast, and just what was needed to get the fans ready for the headliner. Most folk there that night may have solely came to see NOFX but I am positive that they left glad they were there in time to see Teenage Bottlerocket do their thing.
The venue seemed much warmer once TBR left the stage and was filled with smoke from cigarettes and other substances. I decided to head up to the balcony area and I did so just in time as NOFX emerged on stage. The foursome clearly was pre-gaming it a bit before performing that night but did not hesitate to play for all who paid to see them. Greeting the crowd Fat Mike noticed a fan in a wheelchair and asked her to be brought onto stage. After words were exchanged between band and bouncer the girl finally emerged to the left of the stage and had the best seat in the house. The band said they had a song they were going to play her later as she reminded them of someone they once wrote a song for. Fans all over cheered in approval.
The rest of the night was just a blur of NOFX tracks from their lengthy catalog, insults from the band to the crowd, and just overall madness. At one brief moment Fat Mike hinted that the band was thinking about playing “The Decline” but a fan in the crowd told him that he played it last time they were in Covington so not wanting to repeat himself Fat Mike said never mind and then joked that the band was thinking of playing Heavy Petting Zoo in it’s entirety. Sadly that did not happen either and I was rather bummed out as I have always wanted to hear “The Decline” live.
Poking fun at the crowd, they yelled at fans for waving erratically at them and even pointed out a couple ICP Juggalos who apparently were not ashamed to show up in painted faces. The fans took the insults just fine and some chose to throw their drinks on stage soaking Fat Mike more than once.
The band did play tons of tracks including “Bob”, “Linoleum”, “Murder The Government” and even “Cokie The Clown” with Eric Melvin lending his pipes. At one moment El Hefe picked up his trumpet and started playing the opening notes to “Arming The Proletariant With Potato Guns” and I honestly felt privileged as this was the second time I had seen NOFX play the song in less than a year. They may have had a hard time getting through the jokes this time around but it was still hilarious.
Other tracks the band played included “Kill All The White Man”, “Franco Un-American”, the tear jerking “My Orphan Year”, “Bottles To The Ground”, and even “The Brews” which was the perfect sing along for a Friday night punk rock show. After a quick encore which included the highly anticipated “She’s Nubs” dedication to the girl who had been on stage all evening the band slowly left the stage while Eric Melvin serenaded the crowd with his accordion skills. Dodging their stagehand/keyboardist Melvin kept playing songs to everyone for what felt like ten minutes before finally giving up his instrument and calling it a night.
The band may have screwed up on a lot of their songs, were off key more than once, and did not look entirely thrilled to be playing that night but I would never expect anything else. It was NOFX, they can do whatever the hell they want to do during their show and I would leave satisfied. Having seen them tons of times in span of 15+ years I know what to expect from the foursome who just do what they want and don’t care what you think. I can admit that as long as they continue to tour I will be making my best effort to see them live because a NOFX show is just that damn entertaining.