July 26, 2011
The El Rey
Better Than ...being security that night.
When you enter the El Rey you feel like you're walking into a classic Hollywood theater. The venue's full bar, chandlers, balcony seating, and barricade don't exactly scream punk rock. None of these obstacles got in either Fucked Up's Damian Abraham's or Trash Talk's Lee Spielman's way as both ended their sets in the crowd rather than on stage. What would prove to be an awkward venue for such an event felt nothing less than perfect by the night's end.Fidlar, the band that seems to have come out of nowhere, opened up the night. Their name is on every flyer you see. Throwing instruments, singing about getting fucked up, Four Loko, surfing and skating, these kids are what all of these pseudo punk rock hipster acts that have been popping up here and there wish they sounded like. Fidlar has what those other groups don't have--attitude. More importantly, they don't take themselves too seriously. Don't sleep on this band. They're making L.A. proud.
It's an interesting thing when you book Trash Talk to be your direct support. There always is a definite chance that the band will set the bar so high with their energy level that the rest of show could seem lethargic. The group opened with their slow and sludgy "Hash Wednesday," but after the heavy intro they shot out into their set like a shotgun in the mouth. The pit was filled with the tank top-wearing mass of kids there to hit and get hit. Front man Lee Spielman split his time between the middle circle pits, front flipping on top of the lucky first couple of rows of willing fans and unknowingly frightening newcomers. A highlight of the set was when the crowd was told to gather at the front and run as fast as they could towards the back of the venue (made up of mostly people drinking at the bar and spectators avoiding exactly what was about to ram into them). Blowing through a clean set with their signature blistering pace, the band played a little bit of everything from their two LPs and three EPs, even throwing in a brand new song that will be released later this year.Fucked Up did what most bands following Trash Talk have trouble doing: Not only did they match the energy level, they raised in their own Fucked Up way. The opening of their set seemed fit for an arena. The opening chords of David Comes To Life echoed off the El Rey walls. The band had the crowd in the palm of their hand, and the stage was set for a good time. Frontman Damien stated that this was one of the best nights of his life as he ran through the crowd trying on everyone's hats, taking pictures while singing, and never saying no to a hug or an opportunity to share the mic. Damian grabbed friends from side stage to help play songs or to just to say hello and name drop No Warning (a great Canadian hardcore band that Fuck Up's guitarist Ben Cook sang for--check them out). The mood was jolly, as odd as that may sound to some. You'll never see more smiles at a hardcore show than at Fucked Up. Personal Bias: Since I've toured and worked with multiple hardcore bands, I'm somewhat partial to the genre as a whole.
The Crowd: It was a three-way split.
1. The hipster indie fan that heard about this show via Matador records or possibly FYF was there. Beer in hand, off to the side, head bob in full effect.
2. The hardcore kids repping bands like Have Heart, Converge, and Cruel Hand. They came for the mosh.
3. The punk rockers wearing Reagan Youth and Discharge shirts, or even better the older grey-haired professional punk rockers. Circle pit, circle pit, circle pit.
There was also this one kid wearing some sort of S&M mask that had these rings coming off of it. Not judging, I'm just saying the dude stood out. Do you, I always say.
Random notebook dump: Fucked Up mixtapes, 7"s, and records would make any hardcore nerd excited. If that wasn't enough, Trash Talk had a zine for sale entitled "Punks Is Hippies" that came with a pack of rolling papers. The zine features photos of the band smoking with a caption telling you where in the world they were. The photos are from Japan to Nebraska and everywhere in between. I guess you could say it's an extension of their High Times article that was released this past winter. I also got a little excited when there were two members of No Warning on stage tonight; a part of me was hoping for a cover of "Short Fuse."