OFF! at Motorco Music Hall in Durham, NC

Punk rock royalty and a rising new talent delivered high-octane mosh pit fuel for an evening well worth the wait.

Punks young and old turned out in force for the rescheduled OFF! concert in Durham, NC. Originally scheduled for 2022 but postponed due to a band member’s medical situation, Motorco Music Hall was blessed to host this evening of top-notch punk rock.

Opening band, Die Spitz, is a brand new band hailing from Austin, TX. Audience members who lingered outside to enjoy the nice weather and missed Die Spitz’s opening set missed out on a rare opportunity to be able to say, “I saw that band before they got big.” 

This four-piece punk rock tour-de-force blasted Motorco Music Hall so hard, so fast, and so energetically, they instantly won the respect of everyone in attendance. At the end of the evening, as people left the venue, so many audience members stopped at the merch booth to talk with the two band members there and express their new loyalty to the band. 

The setlist was built primarily around their 2023 release, Teeth. “Kill Mr. Jones” from the 2022 digital album, The Revenge of Evangeline, started their set with an unexpectedly fantastic blend of punk, grunge, and a danceable drum and bass foundation. From there, songs such as “Hair of Dog” and “Slater” from Teeth were performed as if they were a veteran band. Information on Die Spitz says they formed during the pandemic and at that time didn’t know how to play their instruments. In no way was the band’s performance tonight amateurish, they absolutely killed it.

Primary vocalist, Ellie Livingston, who appeared seven feet tall on stage but off stage is maybe five foot five inches at best, commanded the room reminiscent of Wendy O. Williams with a harsh and intense voice with sporadic flailing and body contortions as if enduring an out-of-body experience. Bassist Kate Halter channeled her inner Johnny Rotten and didn’t miss a note even though she did her very best to make the audience question if she was lucid enough to be trusted around sharp objects. Drummer Chloe Andrews looks and drums similar to Meg White while guitarist Ava Schrobilgen conjures up echoes of Krist Novoselic; unassuming at one moment followed by blindingly intense bursts of energy and emotion. 

This combination of musicians works. They have “it” and within roughly 40 minutes everyone in the venue knew it. Opening for OFF! is the band’s very first full tour but according to Kate Halter, future tours are already in the works. Die Spitz is too damn good to not become wildly successful. 

In under an hour, OFF! ripped through 26 songs pulled from their three albums and delivered one of the best punk shows in recent Durham, NC history. A blend of old and young punks ignited a very active mosh pit in the middle of the nearly sold-out 400-person venue and met OFF!’s energy with equal force. OFF! combines 1990s punk rock sound and intensity with smart, rock-centric Burning Brides-esque songwriting which results in a performance that delighted both punks and rockers in the audience.

The sprawling 26-song setlist included songs from the band’s entire discography but emphasized their latest release, Free LSD. “Slice up the Pie,” “Time Will Come,” and “War Above Los Angeles” opened up the first three songs of the setlist which happen to be the first three tracks on Free LSD. Late in the set, “I Don’t Belong” and “Panic Attack” from their First Four EPs release saw the audience singing along with vocalist Keith Morris and the band’s latest single, “Keep Your Mouth Shut” performed mid-set reminded the audience just how much the band’s sound has evolved over the years.

Never pausing in between songs except for an occasional feedback-based electronic bridge just long enough for the band to catch their breath, the only physical interaction between the band and the audience was the regular tossing of broken drumsticks by drummer Justin Brown. However, from start to finish, OFF! and the entire Motorco Music Hall was in perfect unison and unquestionably connected. Perhaps it was due to the decades-long relationship older audience members have felt with Keith Morris, but the show felt like an old-school punk rock show where guys you knew intimately were the performers, not rock stars. 

OFF! and Die Spitz delivered a combined show that far exceeded expectations. OFF! proved once again they are an undeniable force in the punk rock world and Die Spitz set the stage for their future dominance in the years to come. Do not arrive late for this show and do not leave early, this tour is one of 2023’s best.

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About Mike Paquin 26 Articles
Mike is an enthusiast photographer in the Raleigh, NC area with a specialization in live sports, music, and street photography.