Punk Rock: Debatably 41 years old. Fat Wreck Chords: debatably 25 years old. As the record label anniversary showcase kicked off their American tour in Boston, label namesake Fat Mike of headlining NOFX scorned, “No one’s called us out for actually being 24 … journalists just like to say 25 … we started in ’91!” Even the wikipedia page for Fat Wreck states both 1990 and 1991 as the start. Whichever it is, they’ve been around for a long time and dependably supporting the punk rock scene, so let’s move on.
Beginning in the afternoon, eight talented bands spanning the breadth of Fat Wreck’s legacy were in queue to snarl, shimmy, and harmonize punk rock beauty. Circle pits were in full swing by 3:15pm. Each band played with all the love and sweat they could muster. It was overwhelmingly fun, especially for one man clad in homemade NOFX tanktop and cutoff shorts. With eyes looking like 3am 12 hours too early, it never would have seemed he’d make it to the end of the night at his pace.
This fella somehow made it onstage halfway through the NOFX set. He stood front and center looking like a shoe-in for the role of pigpen at an upcoming Peanuts play, his words tumbling into the mic as indecipherable gibberish. Bass player El Hefé’s offered, “I’ll translate, Caitlyn where are you?” But then things turned tender as the fan’s motives became clear and his girlfriend joined him up there. He thanked her for “putting up with my shit as much as she does.” Exactly what he said is unclear, but he pulled a ring from his pocket to propose. Audience cheers erupted for the couple, but Fat Mike’s face turned to confused and a bit disgusted. The girl jumped in the man’s arms, they kissed like horny teenagers, and departed the stage thanking the band. Hefé replied, “You’re welcome, go see a throat doctor Darth Vader.” Mike brought up the area’s struggle with oxycontin addiction and heckled in a gruff voice, “Thank you too, good luck with that pain killer problem you got. There’s no way I’m payin’ for your pain pills forever.” Hefé chimed in with a similar impersonation, “Luke, I am your father.” You can watch most of the punk rock love story develop here and below:
Shortly after, Mike asked, “Is anyone here under 18? You have no business being here. NOFX is for adults.” This proved as a predictable, yet perfect intro to their song “Fuck the Kids”. They pressed on with “Seeing Double at the Triple Rock”, “Stickin’ In My Eye”, and “Linoleum”. Three fever-inducing hits from across the NOFX timeline, these songs pushed the excitement levels of everyone to 11. People young and old threw themselves into a nearly 40′ diameter circle pit—it was a moment of transcendent bliss. After 25 years of Fat Wreck, and 30 plus years of NOFX, they are a true heritage.
With a well-rounded, poignant batch of bands setting the stage, I’d happily place it in the top ten shows of my lifetime. Check out the photos below of BadCop/BadCop, toyGuitar, Masked Intruder, The Flatliners, Swingin’ Utters, Strung Out, Lagwagon, and the big papis: NOFX. And read the interview with Fat Mike about his punk label turning 25.