[16 March 2001]
The Night Everything Became Nothing
I am slipping into nothingness. A strange nothingness this is though: a nothingness with substance. A nothingness seasoned with meaty odd-metered bass attack, guitar skronk peeling the wallpaper off of my mind’s living room and rhythmic ecstasy thumping at the beat of my heart. I have succumbed to the trip, the hallucinatory there of nowhere—the cinders of all that was burned, the ultimate anything goes psychosis of nihilism. Bassist and vocal terrorist Rob Wright, Mr. Wright, has transmogrified, as he always does, into Mr. Wrong rather early in the performance. We know walk in the Nietzschean territory of beyond good and evil where our most deeply held convictions and morals are thrown at the wall like dry spaghetti. There will be no retreat, no surrender—a scorched earth policy is now mandated by Mr. Wrong (a.k.a. No Way) and his army—his brother John Wright (a.k.a. No Where) on the skins and Tom Hollister (a.k.a. No How) on the guitar.
We jump and sway to the suggestive rhythm; it has taken over. I have become none with the audience in this celebration of all that is anti. Anti-establishment: a DIY band that has never been and will never be on a major label opting instead for the confines of San Francisco’s anarchic Alternative Tentacles. Anti-system: philosophical meanderings bent on postmodern deconstruction of metaphysical notions of balance and essence. Anti-authority: Wright/Wrong physically and verbally chastises a jackoff bouncer who, 10 minutes into the show, jumps onstage to show his allegiance to the gestapo by pushing around a couple of kids having a good time, pushing him offstage with the comment “they (the audience) paid their hard earned money to see the band, not you.” Anti, anti, anti, anti .... Everything anti except for antiquated, for these elder Canuck gents still can rock with the passion of newlyweds. Yet, even in this nothingness there is something occurring. Perhaps we are at a wedding, that intersection of two that never quite makes one.
“The Fall” still possesses all of the magic since its inception into this world in 1991. The verbal harangue of its chorus, “Do you know the meaning of this is love, this is love?” interloped with he masochist plea “Give me just a little shove” deftly describes the audience-band relationship this evening, with the band the former and the audience the latter. Mr. Wrong is our master, the stage his bully pulpit, the music his glorious punishment, we are not worthy.
“The Tower” and “Two Lips, Two Lungs, One Tongue” off of 1989’s Wrong reorient our synapses and puree our delusions of grandeur. “The sword of truth is just another weapon,” Mr. Wrong states at the beginning of “The Tower”, and we are set straight; the truth has no function here—all truth shall be negated. “Only so many songs can be sung with two lips, two lungs and one tongue” reminds us of the inadequacy of words. Here, tonight, music speaks more loudly, our canoe carrying us down the waterfall into the abyss.
“The Graveyard Shift”, off the new release, No One, is a solid opener, inviting us to care about that security officer that probably chased us out of a parking garage when we were 16 trying to get high and fuck somewhere dangerous. We don’t care; he’s still as big an asshole today as he was years ago with his shallow sentimentality and “hey look at me moping” mindset. What are you gonna do, throw your flashlight at us?
“Beat on the Brat”, the Ramones classic, is less of a lark than the original and more of a call to arms. Punk music has become too snotty for its own good; snotiness sells records whilst innovation is neglected. Immediately after the show the audience split into groups and infiltrated homes and music businesses destroying every Blink 182 album they could find.
Well, there was nothing blue, only the black of nothingness. Call the wedding off; there will be no union…......... only disjointed disunion.
All in all, one of the three best shows I’ve ever been to, in the same company as the two other times I’ve seen Nomeansno. The lights click on and sanity, normalcy, begins to return. My ears are ringing and my brain is soar. I don’t want to go to work on Monday.
Published at: http://www.popmatters.com/pm/review/nomeansno/