Every generation claims that rock is dead. And every generation has been wrong. Someone always comes around. Whether it’s Jimi Hendrix, Axl Rose or Kurt Cobain, there is always someone with a new spin on that old three-chord trope. Except there hasn’t been one for quite a while.
Enter No Age, the patron saints of L.A. hipsterdom ruling from atop its three-foot-high throne on the stage of a scenester Mecca, The Smell. No Age would appear poised to once again save rock and roll for the unwashed masses, but the band seems more interested in having fun.
As is often the case at seriously indie shows, the evening began with two of the most embarrassingly amateurish acts imaginable. First up was Maria, an Oxnard-based pop band with no discernable sense of taste or style, and even less aptitude for music.
Shortly after that first band left the stage, the one-man noise DJ Kyle Parker (a.k.a. Infinite Body) took over, muttering nihilistic platitudes into the mic between screeching moments of electronic distortion.
The set took a turn for the better every time Parker spoke, as he spewed gems like, “This song is dedicated to waiting all week to get up onstage and forget who you are for a few minutes … until even that doesn’t work anymore … and then you just stand around, feeling nothing, like an empty shell. And then you go home and kill yourself … and listen to the new Beyonce song.” It’s either brilliant shtick or a desperate cry for help.
Finally, a full three hours after the doors at Velvet Jones opened, No Age took the stage for a 45 minute set of pure, unadulterated insanity.
They say talking about music is like dancing about architecture, and if that is so, I’d have to gyrate in the shape of the Leaning Tower of Pisa in order to adequately explain a performance by No Age. The duo takes the simple, elegant head-rush of garage rock and twists it, bashing it against the floor until the whole thing slants to the side, unhinged.
I cannot tell you a single lyric sung. I cannot hum for you a single hook. Nor can I recall one clear moment. All of the dance-friendly madness folds together into a tapestry of fun.
Onstage, there was no pretentiousness. No sanctimonious, holier-than-thou cynicism, nor pandering claptraps and faux compliments. Instead, No Age offered only blaring guitars and excessive distortion.
Rock and roll can rot; No Age is too busy throwing a party to play nurse.