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No Age @ Fondation Cartier, Paris 11.04.11

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by Cheri Amour

There’s no need for my Paris Pratique tonight. I am met with the dense wall of noise emitting from LA two-piece No Age as soon as I so much as head down the Boulevard towards Fondation Cartier. Add to this the intense and kaleidoscopic video being projected behind the group and throughout the transparent structure of the building like some sort of superhero call to all of Paris’ veritable indie crowd, and one can hardly miss the band’s performance in this novel venue choice. It’s a concept that is both innovative and alarming, with the contemporary art gallery’s main facade being entirely constructed of glass. What is it they say about punk bands in glass houses?

I’m going to confess openly that I do love a good two-piece. Admittedly, I’m thinking more Tegan And Sara than The Ting Tings but there’s certainly something to be said for stripping a track down and intrinsically piecing it back together, particularly if you do this with an inventive approach. And what better way to do this than by stripping down excess member blubber too! There’s no room for slackers in this raucous duo, nor any other onstage participants for that matter, as No Age guitarist Randy Randall (is it possible to have a more American sounding name … twice!) is surronded by no less than three stacks. Like the grunge greatness before him, Randall shares J. Mascis’ mighty wall of guitar amps, and the sheer volume produced by them more than makes up for the lack of low end as does Randall’s tech-savvy approach to pedal trickery.

As a preface to the band’s sound, I am going to start by simply stating, No Age are loud. And not just like, ‘Oh, love can you turn that music down, it’s a wee bit loud’ but like drum-thrashing, bone-shaking, ear-rippingly LOUD. And it feels good. Currently signed to Sub Pop, it’s fair to say No Age, just like their label mates and Dalston darlings Male Bonding, are purveyors of that early 90s grunge sound. Yet more than just lax punk riffs and dischordance, the sheer energy and force placed behind every visceral drum hit or animated guitar thrust makes No Age seem more like a frat party than apathetic. Delving underneath the noise takes some focusing particularly with all levels set to 11, but largely addictive and no longer than three-minute blasts of shout-along bliss emerge like new album track ‘Glitter’ or old favourite, ‘Teen Creeps’. Final track and encore ‘Boy Void’ is not a far cry from the distorted squeals of Nirvana’s ‘Radio Friendly Unit Shifter’ with Dean Splunt’s pounding and incessant bass drum leading the furied strums of Randall’s angular riffs.

Maybe we are all too enthused by Foundation Cartier’s bold decision to embrace this pair into its trendy complex, or we’re just simply grateful to be part of the band’s fuzz-enthused joy ride through their whirlwind set. Either way, this two piece accomplishes a resounding set of achievements; a room full of sweaty yet adoring Parisians and a whole lot of post-set tinnitus. Tell all your friends and clear the decks (someone’s got to make room for all those amps), No Age are here and they’re not coming quietly.

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