April 3, 2011
Triple Rock Social Club, Minneapolis
Considering the pedigree of the band, this show should have been different, better. Off!'s members hail from such revered punk rock bands (Circle Jerks, Redd Kross, Rocket From the Crypt, Burning Brides, among others) that maybe it was too much to expect a transcendent show, but what we got could hardly even be classified as a good one.[jump]
Sure, the songs were what you'd expect--raw, angry, lacerating punk in the vein of the early '80s Orange County scene--but the unbridled, often ugly cynicism spewing from frontman Keith Morris's mouth between songs marred Sunday's show at the Triple Rock much more than it needed to or should have. It was the tone, maybe. Like Morris thought he was teaching us something, but we'd heard all of it before (the government runs wars for Halliburton's benefit, the military is being used in ways were not fully aware of, etc.) and it was presented in a way that was incredibly boring, like a high school Conspiracy Theory 101 class. There was no insight, just the regurgitation of the long-held (and occasionally disproved) beliefs by the far, far left. Morris also came off as petty, taking several cheap shots at Black Flag, a band he was either kicked out of or simply parted ways with (depending on who you ask) 32 years ago.
"This next song will allow us to play at the Super Bowl halftime show, it's called 'Fuck People,'" Morris said in part before the band broke into the positively blistering song, but coupled with the above quote and the long, disjointed anti-corporate rant to which it was attached the song lost some it's power and--like much of the set--was rendered relatively toothless before it even had a chance to bite. The one bright spot in Morris's seemingly endless list of gripes was his insistence that the crowd go out and support local music whenever and wherever they could. He thanked local openers Much Worse and cited them as a reason to see local shows. It was the only bile-free statement of the night.
By virtue of Morris's between-song diatribes Off! only played nine songs--the first and last being the same song--during the far-too-short 40-minute set. It was quite a letdown overall. The songs were great, cathartic, bone-breaking punk that immediately churned the crowd into a frenzied circle pit in front of the stage but there weren't enough of them; the ranting was too long with little to offer in the way of new ideas and it ended up sounding like the neighborhood nutcase howling into the wind. This was their last show of the tour and, sure, they were probably ready to go home and simply dialed in the show a bit, but I couldn't shake this thought: when you're 22 and have these ideas it gives people the sense that you're at least thinking about things, even if you don't necessarily agree with the statements. When you're in your 50s and still have the same ideas, it means you haven't learned anything at all.
Critic's Bias: I wasn't expecting to be blown out of my shoes, but I was expecting greatness.
The Crowd: Never have I been in a crowd so easily described in just one word: punk. Piercings and tats everywhere.
Overheard In The Crowd: "This beer tastes like a 1965 GTO."
Random Notebook Dump: The songs are great fun; between songs: not so much.