All photos by Rachel Rasby
The smell of Cocoa Puffs crushed underfoot. Silhouettes of back-hair illuminated by a spotlight. Clouds of sweat puffing around the stage. Most of my memories of Fucked Up’s performance on Monday night at the Rock and Roll Hotel aren’t particularly pleasant. But who likes their shows ‘pleasant’ anyway? Yeah, it was kind of a sweaty mess at the front of the stage – a crowd five fans deep, jumping relentlessly up and down throughout the set. But Fucked Up supplied an undeniably, infectiously energetic soundtrack for us to go wild to.
Leading by example, Fucked Up’s Damian Abraham rushed on stage and proceeded to rip open a huge bag of store-brand Cocoa Puffs all over the audience. Okay, consider my attention grabbed. Damian was one of those frontmen that’s always doing something to keep your attention, whether he’s spinning his mic around by its cord, leaning into the crowd to yell about the Crusades, or just stomping around on stage. I enjoyed the show from start to finish; I can see why their live shows have gotten them so much buzz. They made the mostly-full Rock and Roll Hotel feel like a summer festival.
photo by Michael Darpino
First, it’s worth noting that, given their band name, Fucked Up never would have made it 20 years ago. You know, back when you discovered music by listening to corporate radio. I can just imagine all the record execs sitting around, begging Fucked Up to change their name. “Wal-Mart will never carry it!”, they’d say. Nowadays, perhaps due to the internet’s outsized role in music distribution and promotion, it’s barely even remarkable to curse in your band name. Maybe Cee-lo Green cleared the way for profanity-laden band names everywhere? Hell, even artists like Britney Spears and Katy Perry can get away with using single entendres these days without pissing off the censorship crew.
Also without the internet, maybe you wouldn’t know about Fucked Up‘s show on Monday night at the Rock and Roll Hotel. (You’re welcome.) Fucked Up has gotten a lot of buzz, from winning Canadian music awards to scoring a glowing review in Pitchfork for their new album “David Comes to Life”. Said album is a sprawling rock opera, if you will. I’m not really prone to dig into ‘concept albums’, but I’ll tell you this: Fucked Up bring a fistful of punk attitude to what are essentially upbeat rock songs. The massive, noisy guitar melodies are so pleasant that they counterbalance the singer’s growly demeanor, producing something that sounds like the bastard child of The Hold Steady and Black Flag. Mix in a female vocalist, and there’s something for everyone to appreciate.
Garage rockers Jeff the Brotherhood (check this trippy video for a taste) and psychedelic punks Regents open the show. Will people get rowdy and mosh? Or will they sing along with huge grins? Find out Monday.
(Editor’s note: I caught Fucked Up at ATP 2010 and based on what I saw there, I vehemently endorse this show!)
w/ Jeff the Brotherhood, Regents
Monday, June 27, 2011
Rock and Roll Hotel