NOFX Kool Haus, Toronto ON June 24

NOFX Kool Haus, Toronto ON June 24
"Do you guys just buy tickets to our show out of habit?"

This is a surprisingly apt question from NOFX's Fat Mike, the long-running pop punkers' lead singer, bass player and all-around mouthpiece. The band have a knack for fucking around onstage as much as they play songs, but NOFX have been around for what seems like forever, with the mid-'90s marking the group's heyday for many.

That said, anyone who's followed NOFX -- or since discovered them -- would know that the band not only survived but thrived the turn-of-the-century pop-punk boom. They even turned themselves into a political force during George W. Bush's reign of terror, cruising through town every year or so to play to a packed house full of the old and newly devoted.

It's a testament to the band that audiences come year after year to watch Mike, El Hefe, Smelly and Melvin -- and to be confounded by them -- with NOFX openly choosing not to play old favourites while digging deep into their formidable catalogue. "You guys are sick of 'Bob' right?" is a pretty typical comment at one of their shows (although they did end up playing it). This is a band who could tour a pretty rigid set of tunes for some years to come, but it's their unpredictability that brings people back and probably keeps them interested after all these years.

And the fan response is enormous. There's a refreshing dearth of camera phones trying to document the proceedings. Instead, people came to actually experience the band's performance, not relive it at home tomorrow. No matter what NOFX play, there's always a significant part of the crowd singing along, while favourites like "Linoleum" and "Leave It Alone" will turn a third of the room into a mosh pit.

Yeah, NOFX didn't play a lot of favourites -- "The Brews," "The Longest Line," "Stickin' in My Eye" -- and their recent propensity to release every song they write is starting to pepper their live shows with some questionable material. But they will be back next year and we'll all go, because who knows what's going to happen then.