Girl Guts, Ford Pier, No Means No: April 24th at The Shakedown

Well, what is there to say about NoMeansNo that has not already been said at some point during their 30+ year career. The band, originally from Victoria, British Columbia, has been a constant presence in the Pacific Northwest punk scene and has made a name for themselves worldwide as one of the most consistent acts and greatest live bands to never have any real mainstream success. The band has released 12 full-length albums and 9 EPs without any significant radio play, yet have one of the most fervent followings of any band that I can think of.

I first became introduced to NoMeansNo by a former roommate who had many of their albums on vinyl and regularly sported a shirt with the words “Be Strong Be Wrong” emblazoned on the back. The aforementioned band motto is from their 1989 album “Wrong,” which is perhaps their most well-known album.

Originally, the band was scheduled to play at the Shakedown in February, but the show was cancelled due to passport issues. When the show was cancelled, many a Bellinghamster was up in arms, but there was a promise that the show would be re-scheduled in the Spring, and if you know anything about NoMeansNo, then you probably know that not only are they great musicians, they are also really nice dudes who do not let their fans down.

There was a buzz all day about the show, and it was the talk of the town among anyone with any knowledge of punk history. When most bands are well into their 50’s and beyond, you do not expect them to be anywhere near as good as they were in their heydey, but NoMeansNo doesn’t know that, and probably don’t care either.

The show kicked-off with Girl Guts, who are a solid pop-punk band based in Bellingham. The set was clean, punchy and catchy and was a good start to the punk raucousness that would soon follow. Next up was Ford Pier, a Canadian musician who has been acclaimed by the Globe and Mail, and was a former member of Canadian punk legends D.O.A. Pier and the rest of his band churned out some high-energy rock n’ roll, which was the perfect rising of the bar for NoMeansNo.

If you have never heard the prog-punk, jazzy insanity churned out by NoMeansNo,then do yourself a favor and listen to “Wrong,” “Why Do They Call Me Mr. Happy? and ” 0 +2=1,” for starters. The live set featured fan favorites and staples from just about every album is their discography. The highlights for me were “Cats, Sex and Nazis,” “The River,” and “The Tower,” but they really tore it up with every song, influencing the crowd to push each other around in a bopping mosh pit, which resulted in me bending my glasses severely out of shape, being covered in lukewarm Rainier and scuffing up my shoes beyond repair.

All in all, it was exactly the type of performance I would suspect from such a legendary band. I could always buy another pair of glasses, but I may not to get to see the Wright Brothers of NoMeansNo do their thing, as they have hinted that the shows on this tour will be followed by a hiatus of some sort.

So, thanks Rob and John Wright, and the guitarist whose name I did not catch! You guys rock harder and work harder than bands half your age!