It seems to be an unwritten law, that if you are putting on a Birmingham punk/ska show and you want people to get their arses through the door early then you whack Farse on the bill. With only a handful of dates since 2009, seeing Farse live is something that a lot of Birmingham music fans are eager to do when they do play, and this evening was no different with the band filling the O2 Academy despite the early early Saturday evening start time.
Farse are a solid ska band, and having seen them previously on the smaller Academy 2 stage, I do feel they are better suited to the smaller stage in terms of creating an atmosphere. However this feeling could have been down to the poor sound, that effected Farse, Lagwagon and Alkaline Trio which may have added to the ‘flatness’ of the audience. That being said, there was a good level of dancing in the pit as Farse played some of their dancey-er ska tunes.
Despite being a support band, Lagwagon are veterans of the punk scene, having been in the game since 1990. Hot off the heels of playing some headline shows in Europe, Lagwagon were on good form cracking out some classic punk tunes and interacting well with the audience.
With Lagwagon‘s set seemingly running fifteen minutes over, Alkaline Trio came to stage late and in a rush which possibly was the cause of the technical difficulties Matt Skiba seemed to be struggling with. That being said, when Trio did get going they put in a stellar set of hits such as ‘Time to Waste,’ ‘Private Eye’ and finishing on fan favourite ‘Stupid Kid.’ With vocals being pretty equally split between Matt and Dan, Skiba isn’t actually the frontman some expect him to be, but he is an intense performer that really does draw your attention, which is possibly why he became the face of the band. The one main criticism was that they only played a forty-five minute set, on a bill where they had been promoted as a co-headliner- if I had come especially for AK3 I wouldn’t have been massively happy.
NOFX took to stage with the band clearly in good spirits, spending the first couple of minutes cracking the usual banter you can expect from the punk legends (when Mike is in a good mood at least), before throwing themselves fully into opening track ‘Dinosaurs Will Die.’ If there was a level of flatness to the crowd for the earlier bands, perhaps it was because the crowd were here to see NOFX, as with the first notes chaos ensued.
There wasn’t a single song in the set that didn’t produce an array of crowd surfers, with security even pulling people out in between songs. It was the security that drew Fat Mike’s attention, with one particular security guard ‘the four eyed lesbian’ becoming subject to Mike’s evening-long ribbing, which culminated in him in fits of giggles after pointing at her during the lyrics ‘Queers, transgends, and lesbians’ in the middle of ‘Leaving Jesusland.’
Nobody does it like NOFX, there is a reason they’ve been at this since the 1980s, and in all seriousness I think either of the nights headliners NOFX or Alkaline Trio could have sold out the O2 Academy on their own merit, however bringing a duo spectacle such as this is nothing to complain about.