Saturday, June 13, 2009

No Use For a Name Weekend Extravaganza Round One

No Use for a Name, Only Crime and Pour Habit

Saturday June 6, 2009
Larimer Lounge, Denver, Co

My next stop on the Nostalgia Express was the Larimer Lounge in downtown Denver. The first, and only, time I came here was a few years ago to see an little known band by the name of The Flobots. You may have heard of them. This locally-owned venue caters to the underbelly of the Denver scene, providing tons of great bands with a stepping stone into the music world. As Russ Ranking from Only Crime put it, "Just when I think there's no new place in Denver to play, along comes another." And what better place to see No Use for a Name, a band that introduced me to punk rock?

The Larimer Lounge offers an intimate setting from the moment you walk in the door, (and it's 21+!). When we arrived, the PBR was already flowing heavily as Only Crime was setting up their equipment. As a proud member of the vinyl bandwagon, I was excited to see records for sale at the merch booth. And at a screaming deal. An Only Crime t-shirt and album would only set the starving punker back twenty big ones, leaving lots of cash leftover for more PBR.

As Only Crime took the stage, it became apparent to me that few attendees knew what they were about to witness. Only Crime is a sort of punk-rock supergroup with members who embody a rich history in the genre. Drummer Bill Stevenson, producer and former member of Descendents, All and Black Flag, is also co-founder of the epic recording studio, the Blasting Room, in Fort Collins, which plays host to Rise Against and NOFX among others. A few years ago, he joined force with Russ, former head-man of Good Riddance, in hopes to form a more active band. The duo has worked with members of Bane, Hagfish and GWAR to produce two raw, to-the-roots punk records that apparently Denver knows little about.

Back to the show. Although I am unfamiliar with their music, Only Crime never falls short of incredible. There are few heavy hitting punk groups that are actually decent live, and they take it to a new level. Onstage, this five man army keeps it relatively simple, making each instrument just as important as the next. They began their set with "Too Loose", moved on to guitar-heavy "Eyes of the World" and oldie "RJR", which contains very noticeable Descendents influences. Bassist Dan Kelly completed the set with his twangy levels on "Take Me", as Russ took his characteristic lunge position, leaving the small crowd satisfied and hungry for more.

Once Only Crime had exited the stage, people started trickling in from all directions, filling the floor within seconds with anxious onlookers. My tension grew as I didn't know what to expect from No Use. Last time I witnessed these Cali punks, their tempo was incredibly slow and they focused mainly on their pop-crap songs that introduced them to radio play. But when they started the set with "Invincible", all my concerns wilted away . The set continued with new tune "I Want to be Wrong", and drummer Rory Croft's masterpiece "On the Outside", in which the band actually stopped on cue as I have always wanted them to (go listen to the song, you will understand).

Before continuing their breakneck set (they crammed 17 songs into a mere 45 minutes), No Use broke down into some pop punk for the ladies. It was quite interesting to watch the male section of the crowd recede from the frontline, allowing their female counterparts to replace them. The girly side of me was thrilled to witness "Chasing Rainbows", followed closely with "Growing Down" and "Life Size Mirror". This trio of songs are a bit of a reality check, taking listeners out of their shoes to look at things from a different point of view. At least the ones that were paying attention.

After a Maiden cover and more More Betterness, No Use for a Name did what all bands should. Singer Tony Sly informed the crowd that instead of leaving the stage and returning for three more songs, they were just going to continue the set. Fuck the encore! Finally a band that understands that their thirty seconds of silence is a waste of my time (I'm running a tight schedule). This, in turn, makes the last few songs even more powerful. They delivered with newbie "The Biggest Lie", featuring tasty guitar licks (and facial expressions) from Dave Nassie and some crowd surfing by Tony. Only Crime's Russ was invited onstage for back up duty on "Fairytale of New York", a cover of Irish folkers The Pogues. As a perfect end to an amazing set, Tony lost the guitar and the band proceeded to destroy the crowd with "Feeding the Fire". I couldn't have asked for a more perfect finale. Nor a better set. No Use pleased every crowd member by playing at least one song from their many albums. This really was the feel good show of the year.

Like that shit? Here's more!
Descendents, All , Black Flag, Bane, Hagfish - featuring members of Only Crime
Tony Sly - Acoustic
Pulley and Face to Face - featuring No Use bassist Matt Riddle

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