Known for performing sharded, brief songs in unlikely locales, L.A’s No Age are completely in their element at The Grosvenor, an unassuming pub tucked away off Stockwell Road. A tattered ceiling and pub furniture left over from 1994 just added to the allure. It’s nice to see music like this played out in its natural habitat: a venue that asks you to get a little dirrrty, where you can really work up a sweat and perhaps get an item of clothing ripped. Sometimes punk rock’s not just for show.
Tonight No Age play a tight, focused and ultimately, highly enjoyable set. The duo of Randy Randall and Dean Spunt eschew a formidable presence on stage. What’s always been interesting about No Age is that live, their sound is much more thought-out and constrained than what is suggested from their records. Their M.O of dressing up short and poppy songs with punk energy, noise, and ambient elements succeeds tremendously in this setting. Two songs in, I’m already willing the new album to come faster. ‘Shed And Transcend’ is the first taster of the night from the new LP Everything In Between, searing through the crowd and bringing on the first signs of the mosh pit.
As ‘Shed’ gives way into the delectably hooky ‘Teen Creeps’, the favourites from Nouns start coming, mixed in with new songs ‘Valley Hump Crash’ and ‘Fever Dreaming’. Every song becomes a new rush; not in the least the beloved Eraser, with penultimate song ‘Six Flags’ (a Black Flag cover) being the blowout highlight. Essential noise made new again. Suddenly, after ‘Miner’, it’s all over and I’m left craving more.
It’s impressive how such an all-encompassing sound can be conjured up by just two people. All the bases are covered – from ambient to noise and then, shading back to ambient shoegazey waves all over again. And then a hook will explode out of the haze, anchoring what’s to come. Everything is transient. Bright flashes of melody burn white hot for mere seconds before being obliterated by a barrage of noise. Even with the vocals partially buried under a layer of reverb, you can’t fight the urge to shout along.
The band really know how to work the audience, echoing the radiant high energy and enthusiasm and keeping it alive through a series of feedback loops and driving rhythms. Every moment seems full and vital.
It’s not often that a live experience rips me out of myself like No Age does. I guess that’s why we do what we do – going to shows night after night just waiting until that something grabs you and gives you the shakedown you didn’t even know you wanted. So the happy result is that we left feeling disoriented, dizzy and transcended, like we’d just been spit out by the spin cycle of a washing machine. It’s been one of the most sweaty, riveting and fun shows in recent memory. For as long as it lasts, this delightful daze is savoured, until it finally slips away, leaving nothing but the haze of good times and a yearning for the next time.