Riot Fest: NOFX

Fat Mike's crew charm Chicago in their own inimitable fashion

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By the time NOFX take to the stage, the rain is heavier and the mud thicker. But not even the torrid conditions can dampen Fat Mike's spirits.

“Hello!” he screams at the drowned rats gathered in front of him. “We’re going to play an album in full. It’s called…Pinkerton!” From there on in, the gags are relentless - at times, it almost feels like the songs are just a way to reach the next joke. He rips on The Offspring (“I’ve got low self-esteem? How long does it take to write those lyrics?”) on Gogol Bordello (“Gypsy motherfuckers”), on Patti Smith (“she’s going to do a poetry reading for four and a half hours”) and on Henry Rollins a lot. It’s funny, kind of, although you have to wonder if the shtick is getting a little old. But then that’s exactly what NOFX do, and they still do it better than most, even if it invokes as much hatred as it does laughs.

As for their actual set, they do play an album in full. Kind of. In between random self-deprecating comments about how well they’re doing despite not practising, they scatter the majority of Punk In Drublic throughout a regular set - their typically idiosyncratic take on playing an album in full. It works, though, and when the likes of The Brews, Linoleum and Don’t Call Me White do make appearances the pit turns into a muddy, bloody (from Gwar’s set earlier in the day) mess. It’s still bitterly cold, but NOFX don’t care, and by this point in the day most people have given up and given in anyway. All that’s left are Fat Mike’s jibes and some good old fashioned and deliberately dumb pop-punk. It’s not spectacular, but it’s a lot of fun, and on this most miserable of days, that’s worth a hell of a lot.