Fucked Up – [Live]

Tuesday, 21 June 2011

No matter how much buzz they might be generating at any given moment, you have to feel for the “baby band” on the bill of the biggest show of any multi-day, multi-stage music festival. It might be inconvenient to admit it, but the cards are inevitably always stacked against them; when the other bands on a card have more history, they also have a bigger fanbase which will, in turn, make them the focus of the proceedings. The old-guard fans of the older bands will turn up en masse of course, but – especially if the performance is a free show – a healthy number of curiosity seekers who have heard the myths will come out in order to see if everything they've heard is true too. It's an imposing position to be in, and it's the one that Fucked Up was staring down on June 16, 2011 at Yonge-Dundas Square as part of North By Northeast music conference.

The list of potential problems before Fucked Up was significant:

    The band was standing on the same stage that The Stooges played on and set attendance records for in 2010.
    Fucked Up was sandwiched between Rusty (who had reconvened for the show), OFF! (the buzz band boasting the added benefit of a rich history due to the band members' past associations) and Descendents (back and touring again for the firs time in about five years) for this show.
    It would be the first of two sets that the band would play that night – the second would be at Wrongbar. This would mean that the band wouldn't be able to phone their show in, but couldn't blow themselves out either because they'd have to do it again in just a few hours.

Needless to say, Fucked Up's situation was not the most desirable to be in for a “baby band,” because the possibility of being overshadowed by the rest of the bands on the bill was very real. Worse, if they actually DID fuck up, they'd be doing it before one of the largest crowds at the conference. If that wasn't enough too, a spectacular number of journalists and photographers were in attendance so, if it all went badly, a whole lot of people would end up knowing about it. Fucked Up had to have known this, and had to have known they weren't the central concern on the bill but, rather than backing down or just trying to fill time and not screw up, they took the opportunity to make a few myths of their own.

From the moment the band hit the stage, singer Damien Abraham never softened his vocal delivery below a guttural snarl or bark unless it was to address and/or thank the crowd but, in keeping up that drive, the dynamics with which the band works began to emerge. At the start of songs like “Queen Of Hearts,” “Son The Father” and “Black Albino Bones,” Abraham would immediately begin inciting his audience as he split his time between crowd surfing (but never missing a lyric) and getting right down in their faces, thereby driving the energy level of the show up at a continual rate. Just before any given song would boil over or just erupt into chaos though, guitarist/singer Josh Zucker would step up to soothe nerves with sweet melodies and keep the crowd from tearing the whole park apart. That sort of give-and-take proved to be a hook in and of itself, causing the crowd to both cheer and sigh with relief at each turn. It's totally unique in the context of post-punk in that regard and, surprisingly, a really captivating one; lots of people may have turned up to Yonge-Dundas Square on June 16 th for OFF! and Descendents, but the added bonus was that they got Fucked Up too.


Click here for a listin of Fucked Up's upcoming shows.

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