I like pulling for the good guys. I swear that as a kid, when a western would be on TV, I'd pull for the Indians. Sure, this made me a loser, but it was formative as well, so stay with me. I never drafted Albert Belle or Barry Bonds on any of my fantasy baseball teams. If I ever were to have the choice forced on me of drafting Barry Bonds or Wil Cordero, I would ask, respectfully, if Chad Curtis was still available. Chad Curtis was better than Wil Cordero anyway.
I remember when I was a lot younger I once went out on a date with a beautiful girl. Because I was not good at talking about much else, the conversation drifted to music. My date, in a rapturous voice, related to me the time she had front row seats to see Billy Idol. The highlight for her, at least to hear her tell it, was when Billy Idol hawked up a big loog and spat on her. I may be making up the loogie part of it; it may have been a Roberto Alomar special, but the point stands that Billy Idol considered it acceptable behavior, as a soon to be forgotten overrated leaking bag o'douche, to expectorate on this fetching young lass. My thought was that if this had happened to me, I'd have jumped up on that stage and killed his scrawny ass. The salient point for me, though, was that I didn't want to go out anymore with this person. Understand, good reader, that at that age I was too naive and innocent to ponder the possibilities inherent in dating a person for whom being spat upon was -- just a second please while someone redirects the narrative.
You know, Fucked Up is about the least fucked up looking band you could imagine. They almost all have collared shirts, for goodness sakes, and until Damian Abraham removed his shirt before the third or fourth song of the set, there was not a tattoo to be seen. And yet, these are the people responsible for some of the most powerful and abrasive critically acclaimed music to hit the scene in the past half decade. "The Chemistry of Common Life", released in 2008, was at the top of most of the credible 'best of year' lists, as well as some less credible, including being number one on my own 2008 list.
The recently released follow-up, "David Comes to Life", is a self-proclaimed rock opera. I must admit that after several times through, I haven't yet picked up the thematic aspects, but that might be because I'm too caught up in its overall brilliance to even care. The album's 18 songs stand on their own. The layered guitars are dense, beautiful and loud, such that I’m still hearing new things weeks after buying the album. The production is excellent (maybe a little more drum noise) but, again, it's the songs themselves that really put this on a level with some of the timeless albums we keep going back to. It's almost like they know it, too. The beginning of "Ship of Fools", sounds like a dead-on nod to "Pride" from Husker Du's "Zen Arcade". Check it out:
And I actually had a point with those first paragraphs. This band is the good guys. I knew before going that the group included a bunch of serious-minded, thoughtful folks. Damian, who has been taken to task for citing Ian Stuart of Skrewdriver as an influence, recently offered a convincing and impressively antiquarian explanation of the roots and extent of that influence. The guy's clearly put a lot of thought and passion into his creative efforts, and yet, when you walk up the stairs at Kings, there he is greeting everyone with a huge smile, as if he's surprised anyone even showed up.
Their set was about 75 minutes long, and included significant chunks of the current and last albums, but also a nice window into the past. The band was incredibly tight, and although the mix was not perfect, in the songs I knew I could pretty much hear most of the guitar parts. Not that that mattered in the larger scheme of whether it was a great show. It certainly was, and the playing was excellent. The drummer, Jonah Falco, was incendiary.
Damian, who hasn't the most subtle delivery, led the charge, with forays into the audience and even a full trip to the back of the club, where he climbed on top of the bar and screamed his lungs out (not to be distinguished from his other efforts) while the rest of the band dutifully kicked out the jams from 40 feet away. On the way to the bar, he hugged or high-fived pretty much every person in the place (I confess some misgivings at being happy that I was only high-fived). His repartee with the audience was both incredibly humble (a thousand thank yous) and hilarious (noting North Carolina's status as the home of Ric Flair, he concluded by saying, 'fuck irony, I love wrestling'). Here's another tune off the new album, which you need to buy.
I'll mention the opener, Double Negative, a hardcore band from Raleigh, only to say that I'll need to do a separate post about them because they were unreal. Think 7 Seconds with some speedmetal thrown in. This ought to do for now:
Folks, take a good, long listen to Fucked Up, because they're going to be cited as a major influence by the best bands twenty years from now.
Here's one of the best songs off "The Chemistry of Common Life".
Fucked Up myspace page
Double Negative myspace page