OFF! @ Bowery Ballroom, NYC, May 24, 2023 | Under the Radar Magazine Under the Radar | Music Blog for the Indie Music Magazine
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OFF! @ Bowery Ballroom, NYC, May 24, 2023,

May 30, 2023 Photography by Matthew Berlyant Web Exclusive
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When OFF! reconvened last year to release their first new album in eight years, with a brand new rhythm section, I have to admit that I was a bit surprised. OFF! were formed by Black Flag/Circle Jerks singer/legend/author Keith Morris and former Burning Brides guitarist Dimitri Coats after sessions for what were purported to be a brand new Circle Jerks album broke down in the late 2000s and Morris and Coats starting writing songs. With an all-star rhythm section (Redd Kross’s Steven McDonald and the superb Mario Rubalcaba, most known for Rocket from the Crypt, on drums) in tow, they released two studio albums and numerous 7”s, EPs, and live recordings before seemingly disappearing after 2014’s Wasted Years. Thankfully, this was not the case.

The tour for OFF!’s most recent (and their first in eight years) album Free LSD was supposed to stop at Bowery Ballroom late last year shortly after the album was released, but drummer Justin Brown’s illness forced them to reschedule (thankfully he is better and judging by last night’s show, hasn’t lost a step). Regardless, it was worth the wait, as we got a twenty-six(!) songs set that barely lasted forty minutes (in hardcore tradition), but still felt complete. I was hoping for an encore where perhaps they’d play some covers or something similar, but I was still quite satisfied with what we got. I don’t know how sixty-something Morris can get up and scream his guts out for that long, but we’re all better off as long as he can and does. Between Morris’ ranting, guitarist Coats’ sick, Greg Ginn-like riffs (it felt like he would go into “Nervous Breakdown” at various points of the set) and fabulous jumping, and the lockjaw-tight new rhythm section of …And You Will Know Us by the Trail of Dead’s Autry Fulbright III and Brown (who also plays with Thundercat), they are also a sight to behold, a brazen hardcore punk supergroup. It’s also odd to see a hardcore punk show in what’s normally an indie rock venue as you don’t normally see a pit in the middle of the floor, folks dancing and jumping off the stage, et al. at Bowery Ballroom, so that added a bit of novelty to the proceedings as well. The set spanned their entire career up to this point, from OFF! classics like “Peace in Hermosa” and “I Don’t Belong” (both from The First Four EPs from 2011) to sixteen(!) of the new LP’s twenty tracks, which dominated the set. The new LP has audible free jazz, noise, and minimalist influences and at various points of the set, Morris could be seen almost praying as he was given attention to Fulbright during a gnarly bass solo. What a show!


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