There’s this weird position that Fucked Up occupy in the monder punk-rock pantheon, with their fans falling somewhere between that of punks who’ve graduated from entry-level nonsense, and hipsters looking for just a tiny taste of hardcore judos to declare as one of their own. When the band played their own show here in London – co-headlined by Titus Andronicus and supported by Metz – we sent Ollie Connors along to see how that middle ground is working out for them.
6 things we learned watching Fucked Up in London…
1) Despite us here in the UK being the progenitors of the genre, that lot across the pond are killing us in the field of punk rock. Tonight sees three of North America’s finest end their brief UK jaunt, and it’s hard to think of a similar tour of British bands that would set one’s salival glands going in anticipation, in a country that was once a fertile ground for aggressive and confrontational music.
2) Being from Toronto in Canada, Metz probably aren’t named after the French side who held Newcastle United right up until the final minutes of their 1996/97 UEFA Cup tie. Newcastle United’s nickname is The Magpies, and like the monochrome feathered thieves, Metz purloin parts of grunge legends Nirvana – predominately the aggressive, thrashy part (that is to say, the best part). I know what you’re thinking; lazy journalism is lazy, but hear me out. Hayden Menzies can thump the living shit out of a drum kit like The Nicest Man In Rock(TM), but vocalist/guitarist Alex Edkins doesn’t possess the languid, self-loathing drawl of Cobain; his vocals instead have rancour and ire of a snarling punk rocker. Like the Seattleites, Metz are signed to Sub-Pop, and looking at their current roster, Metz fit just as well with their contemporaries in 2013 as they might have done in 1993.
Watch the video to ‘Wet Blanket’ by Metz:
3) With an equal set allocation time to Fucked Up, Titus Andronicus fit in plenty of material from across their three album discography – and what glorious material it is. As influenced by shoegaze and lo-fi as the timeless heartland rock of The Boss, the New Jerseyites are on fire tonight, raising hell amongst a small-but-dedicated fanbase down the front, and hopefully pull in a few new fans too – their intellectual and progressive approach to punk rock should strike a chord with fans of tonight’s headline act. The end of their set may pack in more false endings than Return Of The King, and this may at times sound a little messy (see point 4), but Titus Andronicus prove time and time again why they’re worthy of co-headline status.
4) The Electric Ballroom was once a fairly reliable venue for seeing heavy acts, but it’s fast becoming a London venue to avoid unless absolutely necessary. Their speaker setup is more suited to an arena than a 1000-odd capacity club venue, and whoever is in charge here needs to learn quickly that loud does not necessarily equal good. If you’re off to the Ballroom anytime soon: pack earplugs.
5) There are some bands that put up a definitive divide between those on stage and the crowd below, who get on with their thing and barely interact save for announcing the next song. There are bands that break down the barriers, with mic-grab opportunities and the odd stage-dive. And then there’s Fucked Up. Frontman Damian “Pink Eyes” Abraham isn’t just with the crowd, he is the crowd. Causing a nuclear holocaust-level explosion of energy in Camden, Abraham lives up to his other moniker – “Father Damien” – inspiring cult-like fervour amongst tonight’s sold out crowd.
Watch the video to ‘The Other Shoe’ by Fucked Up:
6) The songs are pretty alright too. Driving, experimental and dense hardcore punk is what Fucked Up do, and three albums and 12 years into the game, they have become undisputed masters of it. Watching Fucked Up is the closest we can come in the modern age to seeing hardcore shows as they were at the very beginning; no “rules”, no pretences, no bullshit – just fantastic music that makes you want to bang your head like your vertebrae are a myth. I have somehow managed to miss Fucked Up since their riotous display at Hevy Festival 2010, and in that time seen many bands try to do what Fucked Up do, but nobody comes even close. One of the most accomplished and unmissable live acts in the world today.