I don't think I have ever paid $10 to see a punk band before. Growing up, I was raised with that $5 or no one turned away sort of punk rock mentality, the kind of ideal that hardcore forefathers like Ian MacKaye had deeply instilled in this vast and ever-changing D.I.Y culture. Places back home in Los Angeles like the Smell and Pehrspace still live up to that standard while smaller venues like the Trunk Space and Modified Arts try their best at keeping it around there as well. However, it's tough to be a promoter sometimes and with this economy you've just got to do what it takes to make sure the bands leave your town with at least a little gas money to get by. This was the case for the Nothington show at the Phix last night. While all the hip kids were probably either at the Yo La Tengo or Ghostface Killah shows, a handful of punk kids congregated at the
Although there were a decent number of people out early to support a newer band from Tempe called Elders, the crowd dispersed almost immediately and left the other opening act, Porches as well as the San Francisco-based Nothington to a few friends and a nearly empty room. It's a shame too, because Ben Horowitz's Porches played an invigorating set; this time as a dynamic duo comprising of Horowitz and Preston Bryant (Businessman's Lunch/ My Feral Kin). At one point in the evening there were maybe 15 people at this show, but by the final act, the crowd had dwindled into an abysmal group of six. While Nothington set up their gear, opting to play off of the stage (because really, being on a stage playing for six people is kind of silly), dedicated Phoenix concert-goers like Erica Harper (Bomb the Music Industry) started pulling out their cell phones texting friends to come on down and support the band on tour. With an addition of two more people, the show went on.
I'm going to say this now. It freaking sucks to play to no one in a town you're not from. Trying to play exuberant 90s-inspired pop-punk music in front of eight people while maintaining your good spirits is even more difficult. However, Nothington seemed to know how to turn on the charm despite their ill fortune. Engaging, energetic, and for this reviewer entirely nostalgic, Nothington reminded me of one of those awesome pre-emo pop-punk bands from just before the millennium; a familiar old mixture of Leatherface with a tinge of other heavy old schoolers like Hüsker Dü, Guided by Voices, and Youth Brigade thrown into the mix. With the popularity of their former bands and the rise of a mini pop-punk revival amongst the Blink 182 generation, I was surprised no one came to this show. Melodic punk music with rich husky vocals and those oh-so-essential vocal harmonies that everyone can "whoa-oh-whoa" along to, Nothington were an enjoyable way to punctuate such a long, long day.
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Last Night: Elders, Porches, and Nothington at the Phix Gallery.
Better than: Ezra.
Personal Bias: As part of full-disclosure, I have to state that I sometimes play in the band Porches. However, this performance was quite different and was super awesome anyway!
Random Fact: I've never really been a fan of Tsunami Bomb, but I saw them open for someone in California around 2003, at the height of their heyday and they played to a SOLD OUT crowd. It's unfortunate that this did not translate to their Phoenix tour date.