Fucked Up, With Bleached, Fraude, No Age At The Echo, Monday March 13th 2017
I hadn’t heard about Fucked Up for a long while. A few years ago, let’s say around 2011-12, just after the release of their ‘David Comes to Life’ album, they were everywhere, part of the FYF fest line up, headlining the El Rey theater… then they disappeared or almost did.
Then I saw this post in January: ‘HIDDEN WORLD is (still) ten years old. We’re gonna play the full album on the west coast for these dates in March. HOPE U COME’…. But I was surprised to see that they were playing at the Echo in Los Angeles, which is a small venue, much smaller than the previous ones where I played before. The band soon added a second night at the Echo, as the first night sold out, and I decided to go.
I am not sure if this was any indication of something – after all the its 2017 lineup announcement is only a week and half away – but the show was organized by the FYF fest and the night turned into a long one, as Bleached decided to play as a surprise guest before two other bands, Fraude and No Age. I have seem the Clavin sisters a certain amount of times, they have probably played every local festival I have attend, and if they played a few new songs, they brought this same familiar energy into their garage-punk-surfy pop songs infused with girl-harmonies. There’s a bit of the Ramones and a fast-raw energy in everything they do, there are a few catchy choruses while Jennifer Clavin never miss an occasion to jump in the crowd.
As soon as they started, I completely understood why the hardcore band Fraude was picked to open for Fucked Up, they had the same vibe, with a funny frontman who was ready to give everything he had, and damn, did he try to destroy this tambourine! Yeah he had one, an odd thing for a hardcore punk band, and I wonder how many he has already broken. There was definitively a bit of Damian in him with a Mexican touch and much more jumping, bouncing with a large abandon. The band had so much enthusiasm, so much energy, that they were truly enjoyable and their loud punk, sometimes hardcore, was often turning melodic with some loud sing-alongs à la Fugazzi. They installed mayhem, he jumped from the stage and it obviously got a bit violent in the pit.
I never totally understood the attraction for No Age, sure they are loud and the fuzz and the noise are big all set-long, but the action is minimal, as Dean Allen Spunt is singing behind his drumset and Randy Randall is shredding at the other side of the stage, plugged to a mountain of pedals, amping every one of his propulsive riffs. It’s very loud, even eardrum-fuck-up and very muscular, but there are melodies which get to the surface, hard to get at first, because buried into their thick fuzz, but yeah, No Age write pop songs, they just like to wrap them around a lot of noise.
Then Fucked Up finally took the stage at the sound of the second movement of Beethoven’s 7th Symphony, and a few second later, the happy storm bursts into the Echo, with ‘Crusades’. Damian Abraham is still this very caring guy, a huge teddy bare in jersey shorts, constantly hugging people in the front row, thanking everyone, and having a good time, while a violent pushing and moshing is happening non-stop. I first made an attempt, I tried to stay in the front, right in the middle of the stage when he entered on stage, but I couldn’t stay there more than for a few seconds! I spent the rest of the show, more or less sitting on the extreme right side of the stage, feeling more or less safe during the wild and happy tussle which followed.
The show stayed furious from start to finish, as announced they played their 2006 Hidden World’ album, with Damian screaming over the empowering guitars and fast drumming. Overall, it’s super triumphant music disguised as hardcore, sounding like a joyous battle, and all I can remember is a series of sonic assaults, the band making waves with raging and melodious riffs, while a gesticulating Damian was bent in half over the crowd. He pulled his pants under his armpits, tried to blindfold himself with the mic cord, made a pirouette to get back to the stage, swallowed half his mic, while screaming like a gentle ogre above the heads of the audience,… He made everyone sing, scream, he made everyone touch him, and since I was close to one of the guitars, the more he was screaming, the less I could hear his voice. He spent the show mostly crunching or bent over the adoring fans, while a constant scream-in-your-face, touch-your-sweaty arm, raise-your-fist-in-the-air was happening, and, of course, it was at 99% a male thing.
Damian didn’t leave the stage without saying a few words about ‘all the bullshit that was going on with the government’, ‘We feel that no one is illegal’, he concluded… ‘stay strong stay united!’ Obviously, no other words could have come from this loveable character, and regarding the ‘stay united’ part, no other event than a Fucked Up concert can better demonstrate this.