The character arch of N8NoFace will one day become the stuff of legend. From making music in a closet to a sold out show at the Lodge Room. From a self described “border boy” growing up in the Sonoran Desert in Tuscon Arizona, to building the kind of cult following in Los Angeles over the last 13 years that is the envy of most religious fundamentalist leaders. After seeing N8’s March 22nd kinetic performance at the Lodge Room in Highland Park, the only question that remains is how far does N8NoFace want to go?
Up to this point, I had only seen N8 open for other bands and artists. With just himself and his Roland SP-404, I can’t remember anyone who was able to fill up both big and small stages alike with just themselves, a sampler and a massive stage presence. But this headlining gig at the Lodge Room was a different configuration of people joining him on stage and that made me nervous, at first. When the essence of something you like changes, the changes aren’t always good.
For this show, N8NOFACE enlisted the help of Here Lies Man and Antibalas guitarist, Marcos Garcia aka Chico Mann. This change wasn’t just good, it was GREAT. From the stage presence to the variation of styles between the synth punk vibes that brought us here, to the post punk/dark wave vibes of N8’s newer material, this performance showed how dynamic and vulnerable this artist has become.
With each new song N8NOFACE introduced came a disclaimer- a vulnerability to the fear that may be present in unveiling a departure of styles to the fans that sold out this venue to hear the songs they already loved. That vulnerability and the risk associated with it paid off because not only were we as fans disarmed by it’s display but the new songs like “Tough Enough”, “On My Side” and “Teach Me” truly showed N8’s range as an artist.
N8NOFACE invokes hints of three different singers for me- HR from Bad Brains, Daniel Ash ala Love and Rockets and Peter Garret of Midnight Oil. Seriously, WTF?! Who can do that?
And the crowd went wild… rabid fans of all ages pinballed across the hardwood floors of the Lodge Room. The more we danced, the more it filled N8 with energy and by the end of the night, I had the words “Fuck you, pay me!” swimming in my head over and over and over and over…
The most rewarding part of the relative insignificance of what I do critiquing music is paid in full on nights like these. Witnessing the evolution, the critical mass and the humble beginnings of artists turn into adoration and respect of a larger swath of the public fills me with such respect and pride for the once fledgling, starry eyed entertainers like N8NOFACE. Dreams turning to reality and visions come to life- aren’t those always the best stories?
words: Danny Baraz
photos: Todd Anderson