NOFX

support Millencolin + Bad Religion + Flogging Molly + Lagwagon + Tiger Army + Comeback Kid + No Fun At All
author PP date 26/06/08 venue Frihamnen, Gothenburg, SWE

West Coast Riot, the one day, three stage punk festival located in Gothenburg, Sweden, is held annually during the Thursday before the two-day Metal Town festival. This year, the festival organizers had really topped all our expectations for them, as they managed to book pretty much every single punk rock heavyweight to the bill. NOFX, Bad Religion, Lagwagon, Millencolin on the same bill supplemented by No Fun At All, Flogging Molly, The Used, Comeback Kid and a bunch of local acts? Sounds like a punk rockers dream come true to me, and the only way it could've been better is if No Use For A Name, Pennywise and Rancid would've been on the bill. Not even Warped Tour can put together a lineup as solid as this, so much kudos goes to the organizers even if this means pressure is huge for next years festival.

As usual, if you'd like to skip the bit where I'll give you a feel about how the festival looks and feels like, just scroll down to the reviews bit straight away, otherwise read on normally.

First Impressions

Arriving by car, the festival has surprisingly good parking facilities considering that it's located right in the middle of Gothenburg at its busy harbor areas. Large scale parking areas and a tram stop almost right next to the entrance guarantee that whether you arrive by car, foot or public transportation, the first impression couldn't be much better. The festival gate itself is divided into three parts, the initial bit where the security holds people back until the queues at ticket redemption/ticket purchase booth's ease up a bit, the aforementioned bit where you could still buy tickets even at the door (the festival was only around half-full I believe, measuring somewhere between 7 and 10,000 people on a rough estimate), and the final gates where security made sure no drinks/weapons etc were brought onto the festival site. Although the queue looked chaotic and painfully large at first, it didn't take more than 15-20 minutes from the initial bit to standing at the festival site. Highly effective indeed.

The Festival Area

As described before, the festival is held in a rather unusual location: right at Frihamnen, the harbors of Gothenburg. It's kind of strange rocking out to punk rock and have seagulls flying above you, or turn your head slightly to the right of stage and see a massive cruiser belonging to some Portuguese hot shot parked right next door. The two main stages were located to the back of the festival area right by the water, with the right side of stage two separated from the water only by a thinnish metallic fence. Kind of cool at first, but once the cold water and wind kicked in, it wasn't all too fun. Luckily the weather cleared up quite a bit after the miserable first hour, so no complaints on that overall.

The two main stages were situated right next to each other, so that if you weren't in the pit, you could stand in the middle and have perfect vision to both of them. This meant quick transfer times between sets, and the next band was normally on within 10 minutes of the other band finishing their set. While this equals to a continuous stream of music throughout the day, it gives awfully little time to get some food or beer, which, due to Swedish alcohol licensing regulations, could only be bought from a fenced off area separate from the crowd area (although you could still easily see the stage from there). Speaking of fenced off areas, a massive bridge at least 50, if not closer to 80 meters tall runs from the horizon right past the left side of the festival, meaning that anyone passing by can just stop and watch any (or all) shows from up there with ease. I doubt the sound quality is very good up there though, let alone the participation level, but if you're poor I guess it'll do. Because I counted at least 40 to 45 people up there during the NOFX show if not more.

I don't believe many people spent much time on the third stage where a bunch of national acts played, or at the circus tent with Brothers Grimm sideshow featuring all sorts of oddities from all around the world - but it was still a cool addition and if the lineup wasn't perfect like it was this time around, I'm guessing that'd be an area a lot more people would be checking out during the not-so-good bands. Anyway, the food was pretty decent. The burgers tasted nice and the hot dogs were big, and you could even buy pop corn at one of the stalls. The only massive minus sign the festival gets from my side is the ridiculous pricing - when you just get a bun, a bit of salad, ketchup and a burger to put inside of the bun, it's just not worth the 55 Swedish kroner that it costs. But I guess we're in Sweden and everything's expensive.

Right, onto the reviews.

Band reviews

No Fun At All

No Fun At All are a seminal melodicore / melodic punk rock band from Sweden. Throughout their 10 years as a band, they released four full length albums which received international acclaim for being just so damn good - and they've been known to reunite periodically for a few shows here and there, and apparently they have a new album coming out for the first time in six years! So how can they be so damn bad in a live environment? Alright, these guys look like they're easily in their forties, but a quick look at Bad Religion's liveshow says that just because you're old, you don't have to stand still looking anemic, especially if your only job is to sing (I'm looking at you vocalist Jansson). Fair enough, the big singalongs he received from the crowd during a few classics woke him up a little, and had him rock out with his arms or step back a bit, but just because you can imitate the drummer with your hands once a song doesn't make your set look good. Good tunes, but boring as hell performance.

5

Comeback Kid

Moments later, Comeback Kid were ready on Stage 1. Opening up the set with their arguably best song to date, "Broadcasting", the band's explosive live set was a polar opposite of No Fun At All. These guys were jumping around like crazy, taking into use all tricks from simultaneous stage jumps to the vocalist falling over while screaming into the microphone, and you could see it in the crowd. A massive mosh pit of idiot karate moshers opened up immediately, and songs like "Defeated" and "Wake The Dead" only fueled the fire. Incredibly solid set without being incredible in itself, much like their latest album.

7
PP

Tiger Army

I've been hearing here and there that Tiger Army is actually a pretty cool band that I should check out. If their show at West Coast Riot is anything to judge by, that's far from the truth. When Geoff Kresge comes on stage with his upright bass, I think to myself that this could b good - WROOONG. For some reason the only sound coming from the bass through the speakers is a loud *CLICK* every time Geoff's hand hits the strings, and actual bass strings aren't audible at all. The sound is otherwise pretty good.. for a high school performance. It's not that you can't hear the guitar/drums/vocals, they just sound flat and boring, and if you top this off with the band's rather lame attempts at getting reaction from a crowd that is definitely not getting their money's worth, the result is one lousy show. Effectively, I don't even have to enter the discussion about how boring I think the band's songs sounded, because with this performance, they could've been playing

Rancid covers and still it would have been horrible. "Hey psychobilly-kids! Punk rockers! Hardcore-people! Circle pit!" ... "Fuck off..!".

TL

Lagwagon

Lagwagon are a family band in the punk rock scene. You can tell from the amount of familiar faces watching them from the side of the stage; I counted Bert McCracken, a few NOFX dudes, guys from Flogging Molly, I'm sure there were others too. And it's understandable, considering the vast number of classics the band has, and the jokey attitude vocalist Joey has on stage. When he isn't walking Donald Duck style like he's crapping his pants, he's throwing away inside jokes to the side of the stage, and telling the crowd that they actually wrote a few records after 1996, stating "though you probably don't know any of those. We'll play a couple of songs from those records now". Throw in the fact that one of the guitarists looks like Frankenstein himself, and jokingly shuns (though I'm certain he was serious) at the karate moshers from Comeback Kid's set by demonstrating how they should hit their own head with their fists instead of hair. The band plays "Violins" early on and the crowd breaks into a singalong, but otherwise the set list choice was kind of weird, featuring some of their more obscure material, other than "Automatic" and "Heartbreaking Music" close to the end. But what the heck, it doesn't matter what songs Lagwagon play today (two new ones were also included, which sounded brighter than "Resolve"), the crowd fucking loves them as does the reviewer - you can't go wrong when you start one of your own songs wrong and say "oh it starts exactly like this other song of ours, just in different tone. Lets try again guys!"

8
PP

Flogging Molly

Now I think it's fair to say that when it comes to Flogging Molly, things such as artistic originality and variation in style aren't things that come to mind. The wannabe Irishmen are a party band and fortunately so, as such they are fuckin' awesome. From the first song to the last, the instigating sound of a banjo, a flute, a violin or an acoustic guitar, signal immediately commencing chain-dances, arm hooks and jumping up and down. Throughout the show there are no 'lulls', as the band cleverly allow some breaks from the dancing with a slower sing along between every two or three songs, and while the content-police might stand back and cross their arms in the face of this band, everyone who can recognise a good time is having one. In the battle over which band does the Irish

punk thing the best, Flogging Molly are definitely giving Dropkick Murphys a run for their money.

TL

Bad Religion

As Bad Religion kick off their set almost instantly after Flogging Molly finishes theirs, they make it clear they're gonna play a couple more songs than they did back at Rock Am Ring about two weeks earlier. "21st Century Digital Boy" opens the set, but its still surprisingly easy to get close to the front in the pits, as you can see from my photos. That doesn't prevent people from having a great time, however, as the band plows through classics like "Social Suicide", "Infected", "Fuck Armageddon" and "I Want To Conquer The World" as tightly as they must've back in the day. Before "Punk Rock Song", Greg announces to the crowd how General Motors tried to buy the song for millions of dollars but the band says no, before he initiates the massive singalong fest. Even the people up at the bridge get commented on, as Greg hesitantly tells a story of a fan jumping off last year (must be close to a 50 metre drop) during The Misfits and tells people to be careful up there, even though they're "on the cheap seats". Rarely heard tracks "No Control" and "Modern Man" get played as well, and my complaint about "Anesthesia" missing from two weeks ago has been heard - though so few people sing along it hurts. Alongside newer songs like "New Dark Ages", "Let Them Eat War" and "Requiem For A Dissent", the band's setlist contains a classic upon classic. Shame that most people in the crowd are too young to appreciate what they just saw, making me think that Bad Religion is starting to be a band of my generation and a band of "some old punk rock farts" for the young kids. "Generator" and "Sorrow" finish the set off in a way that should teach them otherwise, though.

8

Millencolin

Millencolin had a lot to prove for me tonight. I've seen them once where they were one of the worst band's I've ever seen (this coming from a die hard fan as well), and I've regularly seen negative live reviews about the band surface on the net. Today was like day and night to that performance. Despite the crappy echoing sound that wasn't loud enough (I'm starting to think they are the unluckiest band in the world), they looked like they were having great time on stage for the first time in almost a decade. You just couldn't hold the guitarists still, while they wanted to show off their skills of playing while on top of drumkit, speakers, moving into every direction, jumping.. yeah you get the point. The setlist was better than usually as well, with "Foxy", "No Cigar" and a song from "For Monkeys" on the plate. For some reason, the band opted for playing their new songs ("Machine 15", "Broken World", "Brand New Game") at almost double pace to the record, and guess what? They sounded way better than on record. Now if that was the way they intended them to sound in the first place (why else play them like this live?), why on earth would they destroy them on the studio record? Also, I get that they're limited to playing just one hour, but the band really looked like they were in a hurry to get off stage. Maybe it was because NOFX would be on next, but the speed at which the band dropped their five hundred banners (exaggeration makes the point) and stormed through their songs just didn't do it for me - it just made me feel like Millencolin is slowly beginning to move towards punk rock history. Especially when songs like "Bullion" or "Move Your Car" completely lack the joy and innocent fun from the old days and sound forced instead.

NOFX

Compared to Millencolin's five massive banners filling the entire stage, NOFX's tiny 2x2 metre banner seems like a purposeful insult - and it works brilliantly if I may add. And if Lagwagon was a family band, then NOFX is the Godfather of all the punk bands playing tonight - pretty much every band who played on the two main stages tonight is standing on both sides of the stage watching their set. For a few minutes, we witness Fat Mike leisurely stroll back and forth the stage looking a bit confused about what's going on, until he lazily moves to the microphone and shouts "I'm ready you guys, I've been ready for five minutes now" to El Hefe and co who have also been wandering near the stage. As they are taking up their instruments, Fat Mike opens his Bad Religion worship night with a mild statement: "Bad Religion just played so many fucking good songs that I just had to re-write our whole set list again and only include our best songs, and even so we couldn't match what they just did" I would beg to disagree, because their setlist was nothing short of amazing, without a single dodgy or so-so song on the list. "We're gonna play music, it's gonna be pretty good..it's not gonna be as good as Bad Religion, but it's gonna be pretty fucking good" Even the short "Fuck The Kids" sounded great as it was renamed to "Fuck The Bridge". The audience reception? A sea of middle fingers directed at the people on the bridge. Almost as good as the massive Oi! Oi! Oi! chants during "The Brews" or the loudest singalong of the night in the form of "Bob". As Fat Mike throws away his shirt and reveals a Bad Religion shirt in Finnish ("Paha Uskonto"), he gives more and more credit to just how good Bad Religion are, making me slowly slip into the belief that he is actually the band's number one fan. But more on that later.

It's incredible to see a band who is able to open up a great circle pit with the intensely fast "Seeing Double At Triple Rock" and in the next breath play the soft, jazzy "Eat The Meek" with equal conviction and crowd response. "I've been drinking since 3:30 today and now I'm sipping water", announces Fat Mike, a notion which you can also hear in his drunken voice that sounds lower and deeper than usual. Not that it matters, because the crowd roar during "Don't Call Me White" buries his voice completely, and in other songs, it just brings out his character, especially during the small jew-joke lyrics added in a couple of songs. All religions get more than their fare share of criticism today. "Any Muslims in the crowd tonight? *pause* Cause the only thing I hate more than Jews is Muslims... and I hate Christians more than any of those. If you believe in God, I don't like you", and I'm convinced he actually means it.

Other than the religious hatred and ridiculous joking going on stage, NOFX still play as if they were still in ther 20s: drunk as hell, no standing still, lots of jumps and plenty of ridiculous jokes - just watch how the guys act on stage. Example? At some point some girl starts showing her boobs to the band from the audience, which apparently have NOFX tattooed on them, and the guys ask her "Are you a Blink 182 fan? Cause that's what their fans do", and proceed to call her a bitch. Only NOFX can do it and have the entire audience laughing with them.

For over an hour, the crowd is treated to a great mixture of stand up comedy (or is it just retardedness? I can't tell) and NOFX's best songs. "Linoleum", "Kill All The White Man", "Leave It Alone", "Franco Un American", and "Perfect Government" all make an appearance among countless others. And for the finale, as the band pretends to have an encore without really having one, Fat Mike simply announces "We could do another NOFX song but Bad Religion are so much better so we'll just play one of theirs" and proceed to attack "We're Only Gonna Die", one of Bad Religion's all time classics. And then it happens. Punk rock fans in the audience start crying tears of happiness as Bad Religion gets on stage and takes over the instruments for the second half of the song, while Fat Mike himself is going utterly chaotic running across the stage like maniac, throwing his hands around, crashing into others. Is this really happening? NOFX and Bad Religion playing a Bad Religion song together, on the same stage? Absolutely unreal, and none of the videos on YouTube can make justice to that magical five minutes or so, during which it's hard to understand just what the hell is going on stage. NOFX has been one of the best live bands in the world for twenty years precisely because of their unpredictability, their relaxed stage appearance, party atmosphere and amazing songs. We paid 620 Swedish Kroner and got a show worth double, if not triple that.

Final Word

Overall, West Coast Riot was a positive surprise. The band list was nothing short of incredible and the two-stage setup was pretty awesome as well. The only negatives you can really take home with you from the event were the high food prices and that it was all on asphalt, meaning that your legs were dead tired by 10pm if you had stood there since around 2pm. But those are all minor problems, and in my opinion, West Coast Riot was the best one day festival I've had the pleasure of attending thus far. Beats Taste Of Chaos / Give It A Name by a mile! See you next year

Written by PP & TL

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