Live Review: No Age at The Arts Exchange

Photo by Will Guerin
Photo by Will Guerin

“Isn’t this a trip?” No Age drummer/vocalist Dean Spunt asked, checking out the Paul Robeson Theatre. Nestled inside Atlanta’s Arts Exchange, the theatre looked like it could host the plays of a grungy Max Fischer – a pleasantly dingy space within an equally dingy, repurposed elementary school. The work of young artists and two small chandeliers doing most of the lighting work gave off that Rushmore vibe. The fact that these light fixtures were dwarfed by an inexplicably massive, gold disco ball made that place even more interesting.

The LA dream-punk duo had just finished their opening song, “Circling with Dizzy.” Taken from their recently released fourth LP, An Object, “Dizzy” set the mood for the rest of the show – a band and an audience doing their best given their surroundings. Faced with a surprisingly small crowd, No Age packed their opening song with sold-out show energy. Guitarist Randy Randall led into the song with a beautiful wash of noise and hopped around the stage once Spunt joined. The audience tried to match this optimistic energy with a miniature mosh pit that barely functioned until third song “Teen Creeps.” Even then it didn’t really get going but they certainly tried.

Still, good vibes dominated, even when some crowd-surfer fell straight onto his head during “No Ground” (the lesson here is that crowd-surfing only works with a packed audience). Shortly after this incident, the song ended abruptly. Spunt, on bass at this point, continued to mime singing and playing and it was clear that power had stopped flowing to the band’s amps. Ten minutes of scrambling and one jokey drum solo later, No Age was back playing another new one, “I Won’t Be Your Generator.” The irony was lost on no one, especially when the power went out a second time cutting that song short as well.

Spunt apologized for all the delays but nobody complained. Somehow the power outages worked well with the band’s willfully messy live show and the well-worn theater. “Here’s another one from the archives,” he announced before the band jumped into Nouns cut “Eraser,” and the crowd resumed its semi-mosh, bouncing through set highlights “C’mon, Stimmung” and “Fever Dreaming.” As Randall and Spunt ripped through their standout closer “Sleeper Hold,” many audience members sang along. “With passion it’s true,” Spunt shouted, and the passion with which the band and the audience approached this raggedy show made it truly memorable.



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