The post-hardcore-punk sages NOFX came through SLC on May 3 at In The Venue. The audience was pretty excited because "NOFX hasn’t played a club in Salt Lake City in like 5 years," according to frontman Fat Mike. Although all the excited fans in attendance expected a good show, they were about to be delightfully surprised on a bigger scale.
After the prominent punk outfit who opened for NOFX, No Use For A Name, left the stage, a smiling Fat Mike made his entrance, picked up his bass, and commented on In The Venue’s peculiar setup, noting the cage-like structure that separates the venue’s bar from audience members more inclined toward teetotalism. He then introduced the first song, "Straight Edge," as one that was "literally for you guys. We mean it."
The set continued as the band played "Murder the Government," "Franco UnAmerican," "The Separation of Church and Skate," and "Linoleum," among many others. But the one song that caught everyone by surprise was the epic, nearly 20-minute opus "The Decline," which they released as an EP in 1999. "For those of you that are hardcore NOFX fans, you’re going to be stoked on this next one. If you don’t know it, you’re pretty much f—ed," Fat Mike said before playing the song’s intro.
Not missing from the show was Fat Mike’s characteristic banter with the audience that makes NOFX shows memorable. At one point he played a song about Salt Lake City he said he wrote in 5 minutes. It was essentially the band saying that SLC is because of the Mormons, but that California has too many Jews (Fat Mike himself being Jewish) — demonstrating the band’s love of delving into controversial matters. At one point Fat Mike declared, "Everybody in this room will be offended by the time the night is over." This prophecy went unfulfilled, though, as everyone in attendance was there to hear the music and couldn’t care less about Fat Mike’s well-known attempts to agitate audiences.
They ended the set with "Kill All the White Man," thanked the audience, and exited the stage. They didn’t come back. In The Venue shuts down at 11 p.m., and instead of playing an encore, NOFX played until closing, choosing not to waste time with a superfluous exit. Members of the crowd dived and scrambled to get their hands on NOFX paraphernalia that was being thrown by the band as they left.
NOFX playing live for two hours a set list that included "The Decline" was a punk-rock show sent from heaven to starved SLC fans. "This is seriously the best show we have had on tour so far," Fat Mike said in a surprisingly serious tone. Given the sweat, torn clothing, and bloody faces at In The Venue that night, I believe him.