NOFX Says They’re Glad Country Fans, Not Punk Fans Got Massacred in Vegas, While In Vegas
This story has been updated (see below).
The punk band NOFX decided that the deadliest massacre in modern U.S. history would make for good joke fodder this weekend, and used country fans and artists as the punch line when they took the stage at the Punk Rock Bowling & Music Festival in Las Vegas, Nevada. Vegas was also the site of the Route 91 Harvest Festival massacre in October of 2017, when roughly 1,100 rounds of ammunition were spayed down upon the densely-packed crowd of the country festival, killing 58 people and injuring over 500 others.
“We played a song about Muslims and we didn’t get shot. Hooray,” front man and bass player Michael Burkett, known as Fat Mike said during the NOFX set Sunday night (5-27). This caused one of the other NOFX members to chime in, “I guess you only get shot in Vegas if you are in a country band.” Fat Mike then responded, “That sucked, but at least they were country fans and no punk rock fans.”
The comments (see below) have caused incredible backlash in Las Vegas and beyond from Route 91 survivors, their families, and others.
“I’ve been listening to punk since I was a kid,” said one commenter on social media named Haley Atkin. “Have always loved NOFX. Been to many of their shows. Traveled to CA for the Its not dead fest and was this closing to buying tickets and traveling to the punk in drublic fest in Ohio… But I am glad I didn’t. Why? Because I am also a Route 91 survivor. How dare you come to VEGAS and insult all those people that were there that night! And not even those people, but their family members and loved ones. What you fail to realize, is that Vegas may be a fun get away vacation for many of you, but this is home to so many. And even if people who were at Punk Rock Bowling weren’t there at the concert, if they were from Vegas GUARANTEE they were/are still somehow effected by it. Vegas may be big, but it’s a small town. I’m truly appalled and you guys lost a fan.”
Neither Fat Mike or NOFX has addressed the issue, but the Punk Rock Bowling and Music Festival has.
“In light of NOFX’s comments during their performance at the Punk Rock Bowling and Music Festival, we would like to offer a formal apology to those in attendance, the city of Las Vegas, the victims and the families of 10/1,” founders Mark and Shawn Stern said in a statement. “Las Vegas is home to the Punk Rock Bowling & Music Festival, and we do not condone the statements made from our stage on Sunday night. We take the safety of our festivalgoers seriously and want to relay that there is nothing funny about people being shot and murdered, ever.”
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Fat Mike is know for his irreverent humor on stage, regularly using the moments between songs to make light of controversial subjects, and NOFX has also recorded numerous songs intending to offend, which is not unfamiliar territory for punk rock. In this politically-charged and hyper-sensitive media environment, sometimes words taken out-of-context or sarcasm misunderstood can stimulate overreactions. In fact certain punk bands like NOFX feed off of those reactions and the shock value of words to garner attention. Jokes are just that, and are often meant to walk to the edge of decency.
But what Fat Mike and NOFX failed to understand in their comments is that within the population of music goers in Las Vegas, there were certain to be Route 91 Harvest survivors in the crowd. Furthermore, there were certain to be country fans in attendance at the punk festival, just as there were punk fans at the Route 91 country festival, some of which whom ended up in the ranks of the shot and killed.
If you only know country music through Florida Georgia Line and Luke Bryan, then perhaps the fans of country music may come across as low hanging fruit. But not only was good human decency overlooked by Fat Mike and NOFX, so was the amount of cross pollination between country and punk fans and artists. The jokes weren’t just insensitive and unfunny, they were based off of a completely incorrect assumption.
For example, a site like Saving Country Music grew out of the underground country scene over 10 years ago where former punk fans and artists were finding their voices by returning to their roots in country, folk, and bluegrass music. Artists such as Hank Williams III, punk bands like ‘X’ and the Supersuckers, record labels such as Bloodshot and Sub Pop, they all helped to cross pollinate fans of punk and country starting in the 80’s to where there was mutual respect and collaboration between artists, fans, and entities of the two genres. The modern day DIY and independent roots movement sweeping across the country landscape is a kissing cousin to punk, employing many of its principles to the point where now the two are conjoined in irrevocable ways.
Just this week, Social Distortion announced a new tour where they’ll be taking Justin Townes Earle, Will Hoge, and other country artists out on the road with them—something Social D commonly does. Frontman Mike Ness has recorded his own country records, and directly helped the careers of country artists such as Lindi Ortega and others.
The point of Big Mike’s words were to shock and offend, and taking them too seriously is almost to give them more credence than they deserve. But in blood, humans are all the same—a Luke Bryan fan, or a NOFX fan. There’s a saying among hardcore music fans regardless of their stripes that all adhere to—in the pit, we’re all equal. Big Mike’s joke was stupid and insensitive to the victims of the Route 91 Harvest massacre. But it was also an insult to all music fans, and to music itself, which is one of the last few elements in a polarized culture where people of all stripes, tastes, and backgrounds can come together and enjoy something mutually, and together.
The beauty and harmony of music is very specifically what mass murderer Stephen Paddock looked to disrupt when he took his perch at the Mandalay Bay hotel and started killing innocent music fans. It’s that same harmony Fat Mike trounced upon Sunday night when he evoked the memory of the Las Vegas massacre to make a stupid joke.
Sunday, June 3rd: NOFX has issued a formal apology about the incident:
There’s no place here to backpedal. What NOFX said in Vegas was shameful. We crossed the line of civility. We can’t write songs about how people in this world need to be more decent, when we were clearly being indecent. Las Vegas has always been a welcoming city to our band, and to make light of the tragedy that occurred there was egregious.
All members of the band would like to sincerely apologize to anyone who experienced loss from the Vegas shooting 8 months ago, and to anyone who was at our show who lost a loved one or a friend, or who had to witness the incredibly senseless violence that night.
We were asked why we didn’t release an immediate apology. Well, we didn’t feel that we could write a sincere apology without reflecting on the actual damage we had done. No press agent was gonna write this for us. That’s why we have struggled with this for the past few days.
We didn’t plan or intend on saying anything so insensitive. It was off the cuff, but just as hurtful. We won’t blame it on drugs or alcohol or Ambien. That’s too easy. NOFX said it, and we own it. We made a tasteless joke. But to be clear, NOFX does not condone violence against ANY group of people, period!
As sincere as we’ve ever been,
May 30, 2018 @ 6:58 pm
Not sure what should be expected from a grown man with pink hair- and I’m not kidding or meaning it as a joke.
May 30, 2018 @ 7:01 pm
I can’t think of anything constructive to say, but fuck this guy. I’m asuming he only said it to get some exposure because no one cares about his shitty band anymore, but still, that’s completely beyond the pale. I know it shouldn’t, but stuff like this genuinely angers me.
May 31, 2018 @ 10:45 pm
you hit the nail on the head. NOFX hasn’t made a good record since around 2001….that ain’t a good track record. f**k them. definitely a publicity stunt. and a very popr one at that. what a bunch of irrelevant s**t-heads.
May 30, 2018 @ 7:07 pm
“The point of Big Mike’s words were to shock and offend, and taking them too seriously is almost to give them more credence than they deserve.” This was a good point, should have stuck with this.
Look, these people have always existed and now that everyone has a platform to be heard we focus on these idiots as if they matter. The best thing to do is to ignore this, especially from a played out niche band that was never particularly good in the first place. Outrage just fuels the fires.
May 31, 2018 @ 1:34 pm
Who is NOFX? Never heard of them.
May 30, 2018 @ 7:17 pm
Clearly this is a dumbass statement for a joke. And if the roles had been reversed, and a Nashville artist said the same thing about a PUNK concert in Vegas, I would feel the exact same way. Fifty-eight deaths and 500 injuries is no fucking joke.
May 30, 2018 @ 7:54 pm
So did NOFX see what Roseanne tweeted and was live “I see you destroying your career and will raise you….”. That or a bunch of guys too old to look/dress the way they do desperately wanted to get their names in the headlines again and figured this would do it. Either way the comments are repugnant and hopefully the band experiences some serious blowback in the pocket books (via lost gigs) as a result of this. Then again, this is America 2018 so they will probably experience a resurgence in their popularity and will see increased digital downloads/streams.
May 30, 2018 @ 8:14 pm
Sad, but not unexpected. They stopped being clever sometime around 1993. I bought 1996’s “Heavy Petting Zoo” on vinyl (aka “Eating Lamb,”) and realized that they had peaked with “White Trash…” I was embarrassed to own it. And even then, once I got out of my early 20’s, I gave up on them for what are probably obvious reasons.
They should have packed it in back in 1996. Now they’re just desperately trying to stay relevant – and failing.
May 31, 2018 @ 6:03 am
Sounds like a few country artists that we all know…
May 30, 2018 @ 9:22 pm
I’ve always been a casual fan of NOFX, but knew Fat Mike was an asshole. I’ve heard him and the rest of the band make some pretty irreverent, and in many cases tasteless, jokes, but this one just seems crueler than usual.
May 30, 2018 @ 9:30 pm
Douchebag needs his ass kicked, then picked up off the floor, and kicked again. Grow the fuck up dude.
May 30, 2018 @ 9:36 pm
instead of giving this fucktard any attention, i’d rather point out something else in this article…
“For example, a site like Saving Country Music grew out of the underground country scene over 10 years ago where former punk fans and artists were finding their voices by returning to their roots in country, folk, and bluegrass music.”
this site really is completely different than how it was a decade ago. i miss the days when the articles and comment section were basically an uncensored free for all. not that it isn’t fun now, the writing is still excellent and there isn’t a better spot on the internet to find good new bands, but this place really was the equivalent of a grimey punk club back then.
May 30, 2018 @ 10:43 pm
This is awful, but I’m trying to be consistent in these things and not be outraged by everything I see. I’m also a big believer in free speech and of course that means defending this drivel too. I’ve really had I with the PC police, so I’ll just say screw these guys but I’m grateful for their right to be idiots.
May 31, 2018 @ 4:04 am
He has the freedom of speech to say that, just as I have the freedom of speech to say he is an asshole who needs his tongue cut out.
May 31, 2018 @ 4:47 am
Sure, that’s the beauty of it.
May 31, 2018 @ 8:08 am
I agree with you regarding the outrage machine that currently exists in modern American society, but I would also add that much like Roseanne, freedom of speech does not mean freedom from consequences. While I totally support the right/freedom of this singer to say these things on stage, I also won’t feel bad if as a result of these comments the band loses a few gigs or is sponsorships, etc.
May 31, 2018 @ 8:16 am
Nor would I. I just like to be clear and consistent. I get tieed of double standards for certain artists and not others.
Toby in AK
May 30, 2018 @ 10:59 pm
que viva la resistance
May 30, 2018 @ 11:13 pm
Fat Mike is a POS.
May 31, 2018 @ 1:00 am
DIRTY ROTTEN IMBECILLES
May 31, 2018 @ 2:38 am
What if there were punk fans there and they were among the victims? Yes, the 1st Amendment exists to protect stupid, unpleasant speech, but it won’t keep you from making an ass of yourself.
May 31, 2018 @ 3:28 am
I’ve just found out that NOFX is still a thing, so I guess his stirring things up for free publicity has worked. Doesn’t make him any less of a twat though.
May 31, 2018 @ 3:37 am
Fat Mike is actually in the Me First and The Gimme Gimmes who covered a whole bunch of Country songs, (even made a whole country covers album) so he’s a fan, he’s just being an asshole. He’s been this way his whole life. He’s said far worse things and will say worse things in the future, too.
Just ignore him.
May 31, 2018 @ 5:30 am
Anything for a headline and publicity these days.
May 31, 2018 @ 5:53 am
Why even write about this? You’re only giving a band that most people have never even heard of free publicity and web hits. Ignore them.
May 31, 2018 @ 7:51 am
Don’t write about it, and you get dozens of emails and comments “Hey Trig, did you see this? Why aren’t you writing about it? Don’t you care about the victims?!?”
There’s no way to win with a story like this.
June 1, 2018 @ 3:37 am
Haha, NOFX are arguably the biggest DIY American band, actually. They’re massively popular.
May 31, 2018 @ 6:07 am
Pop punk sucks almost as bad as pop country and NOFX is basically the “punk rock” equivalent of Florida Georgia Line in my opinion. Fat Mikes an idiot.
May 31, 2018 @ 2:35 pm
I think pop-punk (especially made by bands from the late 80s-early 90s) is a lot closer to punk than pop- country is to traditional country. I think someone like post “American Idiot” Green Day would be a better punk rock analogue to Florida Georgia Line.
May 31, 2018 @ 2:51 pm
Bands like Green Day, NOFX, Pennywise etc…etc…etc… brought punk into the mainstream where it never belonged, and basically killed what it once was. They’re no better than any of the pop country bands of today in my opinion.
May 31, 2018 @ 6:40 pm
Maybe I just have a soft spot in my heart for those early pop-punk/skate punk bands because they helped introduce me to a world of music wider than the radio country I was raised on. Growing up in rural East Texas, I wasn’t really exposed to actual punk, but bands like Green Day, Blink 182, even Fall Out Boy, etc. which were fairly mainstream, eventually led me to listening to bands like The Descendants, which in turn led to Black Flag, Circle Jerks, Agent Orange, Dead Kennedys, etc. I’m also not sure that I’d agree about them bringing punk into the mainstream. They brought simple, catchy punk tinged pop-rock/power pop songs into the mainstream, but actual punk rock was and still is being made, and will likely never be mainstream do to its abrasive quality.
June 1, 2018 @ 3:38 am
Spoken like someone who knows almost nothing about punk rock and pop punk
Dirt Road Derek
May 31, 2018 @ 6:13 am
Absolutely disgusting. Fuck NOFX.
May 31, 2018 @ 6:46 am
Well, my media alerts are going off all over the place because of these guys. I guess they got what they wanted.
May 31, 2018 @ 6:52 am
I just thought about NOFX for the first time in twenty years. I wish I hadn’t. Just poor taste all around.
I just thought I would thank Trigger for writing about how punk and country cross paths. I got into country via the routes he described. I’m so glad I did!
May 31, 2018 @ 6:55 am
I’ve spent some time with Fat Mike and trust me when I tell you he is a complete piece of shit as a human being.
May 31, 2018 @ 6:59 am
off color and in poor taste for sure. But unlike the overly sensitive progressive left in the country, I don’t go out of my to be offended. Hopefully they will learn a hard lesson from this and move on.
May 31, 2018 @ 8:05 am
No problem guys, nofx given.
June 1, 2018 @ 5:22 am
10/10 cobs way up! Brilliant.
May 31, 2018 @ 9:51 am
This is the most press they’ve received in 20 years.
King Honky Of Crackershire
May 31, 2018 @ 10:32 am
Why are my comments being deleted?
May 31, 2018 @ 10:37 am
Because they are unhealthy and inappropriate to this conversation.
June 1, 2018 @ 5:23 am
The fact you even need to ask baffles me.
King Honky Of Crackershire
June 1, 2018 @ 7:35 am
The fact that you’re baffled would be baffling to me, especially since you don’t know what I said, but the average person is so anti-speech, pro-censorship these days, that I’m not really baffled.
June 1, 2018 @ 8:18 am
Perhaps what scott means is that you have asked that same question so many times and have pretty much gotten the same answer every time.
King Honky Of Crackershire
June 1, 2018 @ 9:34 am
But with no actual explanation about specifics. Not to mention that the rules are all subjective and change from day to day.
June 1, 2018 @ 11:21 am
The rules apply different to you because you have a long history of train wrecking comments sections. If you you feel unfairly targeted, you should. There are rules to the comments sections I adhere to, but ultimately it’s my website, and I’ll do whatever I want to in hopes of fostering dialogue instead of destroying it.
King Honky Of Crackershire
June 1, 2018 @ 12:07 pm
Finally. Thank you for admitting it. In all seriousness, I’m less confused now. I suspected you were targeting me for a long time, and had double-standards for me, but you’ve never admitted it before.
Also, even though I think you’re a censorship A-hole, I fully agree with your right to do whatever you want with your website. I’d do whatever I wanted as well.
June 1, 2018 @ 1:55 pm
Well, then it sounds like you’re just fucking confused.
June 2, 2018 @ 6:52 pm
The government censors. Website owners/admins curate/moderate. Don’t like it? Troll somewhere else.
May 31, 2018 @ 11:56 am
Free speech and deserves to be protected, unless it’s hate speech (which this isn’t). That said, money’s free speech too, and mine’s going to Stone Brewing who dumped these assholes is halting production of the Punk in Drublic collaboration beer. What’s out there now will have 100% of the proceeds donated to LV first responders’ fund. Appreciate the notes in the article that outrage is all these guys want, and may be worth adding an update with their apology for completeness.
May 31, 2018 @ 12:06 pm
They’ve released a statement saying they’re going to release a statement. As soon as they release that statement, I will post an update.
King Honky Of Crackershire
June 1, 2018 @ 7:36 am
“Hate” speech is free speech too.
June 1, 2018 @ 10:45 am
Apologies, should have said ‘fighting words’, a subcategory of hate speech that’s specifically not protected by the first amendment.
May 31, 2018 @ 12:34 pm
Meh, we make fun of lots of things that kill people. A bit soon, yes, but we laugh at drunk people crashing cars, at jokes about gun control, and I don’t see anything that much different. Actually, it might stop the next shooter if he/she thinks it won’t be taken seriously.
Prior to Vegas, I’ve been at a country festival playing Cards Against Humanity and joking that if we had a terrorist attack here, we’d probably be a side note in the news that the country’s IQ has gone up 5 points and all problems with dental health care have been fixed.
When we lose our right to inappropriate humour, society has lost everything.
Btw, its a good thing Hank Williams is dead. I mean, otherwise he’d be totally p*ssed off being buried.
P.s. when I die, feel free to laugh. When the worms are done with me, I’ll finally have more hair than space on my head.
June 1, 2018 @ 10:52 am
Generally agree that nothing’s sacred with regards to humor, hell most things that are funny start from pain. I think it’s more the context that bothers me, timing/location/audience. I also could have overlooked the irreverence if it was actually funny instead of just shocking. Reminds me of some of early South Park.
May 31, 2018 @ 1:27 pm
I actually like a lot of these guys’ music and as much as I wouldn’t miss Jason Aldean, mass murder is a awful shitty thing to joke about. Seems like a pathetic attempt at a publicity stunt to me.
May 31, 2018 @ 1:39 pm
I bet Trump is not their President either..
The fucking truth
May 31, 2018 @ 2:46 pm
Are you ar toting rednecks really buttthurt that a punker made a slight joke. He wasnt happy rednecks got shot, just would have been more upset if it were punx. Cause punks dont kill people. Punks dont own ar 15s. How many country music fans at that fest owned big guns? 75%? All of them? Isnt it rednecks who murder brown people when they ask for directions? Arent all those school shooters young white redneck males? Arent those shooters simply taking a family memebers gun each time? Because you all hoard guns like cowards and dont keep them safe enough. And fuck no im no liberal i want guns legal. But its the fear and cowardice , the hatred and evil, that plagues the redneck white male, that needs to be eradicated. Stop crying about comments and jokes and fix your fucking culture, use those guns to actually protect cause so far even that instagram gi joe guy turned out to be a pussy. so yea im with far mike, punks are fighting for change and eqaulity, rednecks are fighting to keep hate and white priviledge as deadly for everyone else as it always has been. When you act like devils and poison the earth and life on it , fail to evolve and get conscious and empathetic, then sorry its not as big a loss. Youre one of the few rednecks thats got a soul and a heart and isnt blackened with fear and hate, stand up and do something. Cognitive dissonance wont kill you. It will make you strong. You might like how that feels. Youve been powerless youre entire life.
King Honky Of Crackershire
May 31, 2018 @ 3:57 pm
This comment is divisive, and should be deleted.
May 31, 2018 @ 5:52 pm
Eh, sometimes you got to let folks expose for themselves what a piece of shit they are, and what kinds of idiotic mindsets are out there.
May 31, 2018 @ 10:48 pm
i see what ya did there, Trig. lol! 👍😆👍
June 7, 2018 @ 10:40 am
I appreciate you allowing me to do that here
May 31, 2018 @ 10:19 pm
This sounds like a person who doesn’t go to concerts because they “hate people”. But what do I know?
May 31, 2018 @ 10:52 pm
The fucking truth, you’re more than welcome to go round up all the evil assault weapons. Go knocking on doors in the middle of night and see what kind of welcome you get. You’re awfully passionate. Time to back up your words hoss.
June 7, 2018 @ 10:38 am
I didnt make it through your rant but just here to say street punks are some of the biggest lowlife thieving pieces of shit ive ever encountered in my life – gun ownership aside. Punks dont have AR-15s because they are likely unable to pass a check and spend all their money on drugs, chains, spikes, Discharge patches and green hair dye.
May 31, 2018 @ 4:14 pm
Never heard of these guys. Maybe that is because they aren’t really that great after all and bringing politics into your shows doesn’t really seem like a wise idea. That comment they made was very hurtful. How dumb can this band possibly be? NOFX should not have a much longer career because of this.
May 31, 2018 @ 10:41 pm
i used to be a fan of NOFX, actually. from around 1995 until yesterday when i heard about this s**t. now i can and will remove them from my music library. Fat Mike has always been a major a-hole but he has never said something this insensitive on stage as far as I know. so f**k NOFX. they’re huuuuge supporters of PETA. that’s a damn laugh, now. So it’s all good to treat animals ethically but terrorizing and killing country music fans who are PEOPLE is funny? Nahhh. F**k NOFX. Never listening to them again. and i mean it, too. Mad as hell over here.
May 31, 2018 @ 11:00 pm
NOFX lost its first sponsor. Stone Brewing has cut all ties to NOFX. They made a beer for the band and was a sponsor for its festival.
Waylon Van Smack
June 1, 2018 @ 2:00 pm
I think this is just more ugly liberalism. Dickhead Mike is obviously a libtard, most country fans are conservative leaning…. no different than the Bee chick calling Ivanka a c**t.
June 7, 2018 @ 10:32 am
Just the right amount of class and tact you can expect from your average punk rocker. The exact type of folk you want interloping into country music. I am glad the shift of the site moved away from the Beverly, Wyatt, Brooke, Hank III, Gallows goth-punk-country schtick. Though there has always been good country music posted here its been more to my tastes in the last handful of years. Its real amazin what youve done with your blog over the years Trig.
June 8, 2018 @ 2:41 pm
I grew up listening to country music (class of 89!), then as a teenager got really into punk. Spent my weekends in the gross sweaty mosh pits of punk concerts (NOFX, Bigwig, and many others). Then in my early twenties, I came back ‘home’ to country music.
Still, reading those comments breaks my heart, and there’s no excuse for saying them in Vegas, or anywhere. They’re disgusting, poisonous words.
It’s annoying to read apologies that come off as the band trying to save face, when if Fat Mike was a decent person, such words never would have entered his mind at all.
September 4, 2022 @ 7:12 pm
NOFX regularly makes holocaust jokes on set and they have been for YEARS(ya, like the mid 90s when a good chunk of you claimed to have been fans). This behavior is nothing new and they have joked about far more devastating events than a mass shooting where less than 100 people died. The fact you all want to get offended now as opposed to when they were making 9/11 jokes years ago shows your selective, inconsistent outrage. Get over yourselves.