“What the hell is Mudlark Theater,” said everybody. As obscure and made-up as the place sounded, I shouldn’t have been surprised that noisy art-punk band No Age would pull an unpredictable move in booking a New Orleans venue.
As it turns out, the choice of venue was based on the band’s hardline “all ages” approach to live music, which is rooted in their allegiance to the all ages, alcohol and drug-free Los Angeles venue The Smell. Here in New Orleans, the only real choices for all age shows are the High Ground (formerly Cypress Hall, still terrible/in Metairie), the Big Top 3 Ring Circus, or come up with something else. No Age, true to character I suppose, chose the latter, booking a tiny black box theater in the Bywater.
This led my group of friends and I to get “high school drunk”, which basically entails hanging outside the venue in the car drinking, smoking bunches of cigarettes, sampling the new Cake album and old Alkaline Trio music, and shooting the shit. The not-so-obvious downside to getting high school drunk is that you can tend to miss the entire show completely. Only a couple of us actually made it past the front entrance for the music.
I was surprised to find the familiar face of local DIY icon Brian Funck when I walked in the door. I was even more surprised to hear him tell me “hello” and call me by name, considering I haven’t seen or talked to the guy in nearly nine years. “Did you put this show on?” I asked. “You bet,” Funck replied without an ounce of pride or pretention in his voice. “Wow, this is awesome man,” I told him. With a genuine smile, he replied, “No seriously, you’re awesome for coming out. Big thanks.”
That interaction left me with a warm, fuzzy feeling of welcoming nostalgia as I cautiously nudged my way through the firecode-crowded performance room, packed so tight that it was nearly impossible to breathe. Somewhere below the horizon of heads was No Age, playing “Depletion” from the new album Everything In Between.
As the band heated up, roaring through songs like “Fever Dreaming”, “Teen Creeps”, and a host of other songs unrecognizable to me even though I own all their recorded music, the audience started getting rowdier, attempting a full-room swaying mosh pit that ended up being much scarier than it was actually dangerous. Then, just as the band was firing on all cylinders, the cops showed up, walking up to the front of the stage and physically putting their hands on Randy Randall’s guitar strings to make him stop playing. The band politely obliged, not making any argument with the police, nor pulling a Jim Morrison-in-Miami with the audience.
As the crowd shuffled out of the Mudlark, I approached drummer Dean Allen Spunt, thanked him for coming through New Orleans, and apologized about the cops. Touring member William Kai Strangeland Menchaca (real name?) leaned in and said, with noticeable excitement, “Are you kidding man? This is punk rock. That was fucking awesome.”