The Frights, Meatbodies, FIDLAR At The Regent, Friday January 23rd 2015
On Friday night, I probably had the hottest ticket in town for the very sold-out FIDLAR show at the Regent… I had bought the ticket for a ridiculous price ($13) a few months ago, whereas people, who had missed the boat, were offering a little fortune for one of these on the web!
The Regent theater is this new venue, downtown LA, managed by Spaceland Productions, which also operates the Echo and Echoplex, and I hadn’t had the occasion to visit it yet, but I must say it’s an awesome venue with the right size (a 1,100 capacity century-old theater) and two levels; and if you manage to stand on the first level balcony just above the main floor as I did, you will have a very good view of the stage while being safe from the rowdy crowd! Rowdy? Well it was FIDLAR, the Frights and Meatbodies, so I expected some movement and a lot flying bodies and I was right. Once again, I was among a crowd of kids (it was an all-age show), mostly guys, some vague Zac Carper-lookalikes, wearing tie dye tees or Hawaiian shirts, and some teenagers ready to have the party of their life. The line to get in was so long, that it made me think about the first time I saw them: it was a 4th of July at the Echo and they instantaneously owned the place and the crowd, although, at the time, there were probably 20 people there! It was in 2011, and in a few years they have become very popular, I first understood this when they headlined Burgerama last year, with a simply insane energy.
Last night was a triumphant repeat of that same chaos, a celebration of youth exuberance and recklessness, also amplified by the two other bands opening for them. First there were The Frights a young band from San Diego with a surf punk sound, but so retro and fast bouncing, they seduced everybody right away. I guess some of these kids already knew about them as they stage dive and crowd surf right away at the sound of The Frights’ fast drumming and very melodic tunes. Oh the Frights are so easy to fall in love with at the first sight, they played a sort of punk-ish doo-wop songs with surf guitars and shouted vocals, which could even have reminded early Beatles. The kids started to climb on stage to jump in the sea of people, having fun with the retro feeling, while the Frights were fast and upbeat, igniting a few joyous explosions, and sounding so much So-Cal that I could smell the beach and the weed. They were awesome, a perfect fit for FIDLAR and they even covered Nancy Sinatra’s ‘These Boots Are Made for Walkin’’.
Meatbodies followed and although their sound was far more aggressive, head banging and both punk and classic garage rock, they didn’t let the energy drop… I could hear a lot of things in their dense sound, even some psych-metal-punk-glam soaked in rock, and I realized a bit later that I had already seen them as Chad and the Meatbodies…. They now go under a simpler moniker but they have a lot to bring to the LA scene, as frontman Chad Ubovich, who has been in every local band that exists in LA (especially in Ty Segall’s numerous projects), is now releasing his own material, impressing everyone. It was tough, loud, even violent and very punchy, with some bombastic rock parts flirting with metal, punctuated by shouted harmonies and long rocking jams. There was a lot going on and at one point they even had a freak-out moment, almost turning Pixies’ Vamos… With a lot of wild detours and many rewards along the way, they wanted to prove there was no limit to the level of energy they could raise. Plus they were totally family guys, as one of them made people shout ‘happy birthday’ for his 2 year-old nephew, and Chad brought his mom on stage…. Before ending their set, they played a very long jam that could make them belong to the same scene than Fuzz and Thee Oh Sees, this ever-mutating scene of So-Cal rock beach party.
Then FIDLAR didn’t disappoint the kids who had certainly come for them and already spent two hours crowd surfing. As expected the fun and the energy didn’t drop a bit and there was even a surprising grand final. If I was already more than familiar with all their punk anthems – you know the ones they are famous for, ‘Wake Bake Skate’, ‘Max Can’t Surf’, ‘Cheap Beer’ ‘I Wanna be Your Cocaine’ – I think they also introduced us to a few new ones, after all they are working on their second album. I was carefully standing in the back, watching above the crowd, but the pit was intense and the party lasted all night long. They didn’t bother to pause between songs, they reflected more than ever this youthful exuberance which seemed to be the theme of the night, and when they effectively stopped it was to say some high pitched ‘thank yous’. I was standing a bit too far to really participate to the party, but looking at the energy raging in front of the stage, I didn’t have any regrets….
Behind their laid-back punk attitude, their ‘ahahahhhs’, their surfy powerchords and silly subjects celebrating alcohol consumption, being broke and stoned, I realized how poppy FIDLAR finally sounded, how catchy their songs were, so high-on-the-fun I could have forgotten all my worries for the night. Why do I worry so much anyway? Life is short, life’s a risk too and FIDLAR took some during the night, throwing their guitars on the crowd after playing ‘I Wanna be Your Cocaine’ (are they now rich enough to take the risk to damage them?) or walking on the crowd during ‘Wake Bake Skate’ above the adoring fans. That’s the deal now, the kids love, love them, not only they stage dive non-stop, but apparently the big thing is to jump on stage and take a selfie while throwing yourself over the pool of people.
Plus girls don’t seem to get over them, especially Zac, a few of the girls managed to get on stage and one or two gave him a big kiss while he was scratching his head, may be wondering how they got to this point? Seriously, they are like the new Beatles, with more cheap beer and inflatable beach animals. Yeah, at the end of the show, they had invited more people on stage than at an Iggy Pop concert and new characters, dressed up to attend a beach carnival, were throwing giant inflatable crawfish, shark and Shamu over the crowd. It was chaos and at this point I can’t tell what was happening… it was part Iggy’s anarchy without the Stooges, part Flaming Lips’ extravaganza without the confetti, and the kids couldn’t contain their overflowing joy, and where did all this toilet paper come from suddenly?
On Friday night, FIDLAR embodied youth rebellion with a blistering intensity and giant poppy hooks but without any other cause than being wasted every day.