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Photo Credit: Raymond Flotat
Back in 2006, a punk band with a seemingly unmarketable moniker released their game-changing debut LP, Hidden World. While Fucked Up had made a name for themselves within their own hardcore niche after releasing 7″ singles like No Parasan and Baiting the Public on Deranged Records, to the greater music world they were largely still an unknown quantity. Creatively and cohesively blending breakneck tempos and barked vocals from Damian Abraham with layered guitar passages and unexpected vocal harmonies, Hidden World established Fucked Up as a band with few luminaries. Somehow, on their Jade Tree debut, this Toronto band was able to make a band from one of rock music’s most inaccessible genres a legitimately viable act in the decreasingly guitar-centric world of alternative music. While the band’s Polaris-winning Matador debut The Chemistry of Common Life brought greater notoriety, it was Hidden World that set the stage for their punk rock coup. FYF Presents offered Los Angeles the opportunity to witness the magnificent power of this landmark release with a two-night stand at The Echo.
As far as opening acts go, it is hard to beat Los Angeles natives No Age. The duo of Randy Randall and Dean Spunt are the Los Angeles punk scene personified, representing the eclecticism and energy of the Los Angeles underground scene, dating back to their days in Wives. Turning what should be a cacophony into perfectly-orchestrated and incredibly austere punk rock anthems, the band excelled in the intimate setting with perfect precision. The guitar-and-drum duo tore through a dozen songs over the course of a half hour set.
For those who have never attended, The Echo has a fairly small stage. Fucked Up has six members, one of which is a large flailing man with little regard for the protection of his body. Abraham, guitarist Ben Cook, drummer Jonah Falco, guitarist Mike Haliechuk, bassist Sandy Miranda and guitarist Josh Zucker emerged from the green room and squeezed onto the stage without any fan-fare, especially considering the conceptual behemoth of an album they were about to showcase.
The band skipped the dramatic guitar-strum, spoken-word sampling opening of “Crusades.” Instead, they opted to launch right into the galloping verse riff – and it was on. Over the course of an hour an a half, the sextet never relented through some of the most memorable hardcore to be written in the last decade or two. Unlike some corners of the punk world, Fucked Up aren’t afraid to heavily overdub on their records, with dozens of guitar tracks on a single song and plenty of vocal techniques that are difficult to pull off in the club setting. In the case of “Crusades,” the guitarists took over providing the backing vocals of the chorus, providing a welcome contrast with the throaty growl of Abraham that is heard on the record.
“Crusades” instantly transitioned into the bass-led opening of “David Comes to Life,” an energetic, multi-faceted song that could be the best on the album – and perhaps their entire discography. At this point, it should be noted the sheer amounts of charisma that Abraham exudes. He’s an every-man’s frontman, the kind of guy that is has nothing but pure joy on his face as he enthusiastically shoves the mic into the front row to shout along with the punctuating “He’s like the rest of us / An impatient ingrate!” Abraham gives the audience hugs during and after the show. Hell, he had a look of genuine concern in his his eyes when he accidentally slugged a crowd surfer with the mic mid-verse during “David Comes to Life.”
By they time they got to the album’s third song, Fucked Up were just kicking out the jams. The album hits an unstoppable pace with pogo-inducing shout-along anthem, “Invisible Leader,” and that was no different Monday night in Echo Park. “Carried to Sea” features the most infectious guitar work on the album, and with three six-stringers up on the stage, they had no trouble pulling off the intricately layered riffage of Hidden World. While the circle pit was healthy enough through the first four songs of the set, there was nothing that could compare to the moment when the band launched into one of the singles that actually pre-dated Hidden World, the devastating wrecking ball that is “Baiting the Public/It’s Your Fault”
The first few songs are a bit like the sugar to make the medicine that is the middle third of Hidden World go down. As mean-sounding as “Baiting the Public/It’s Your Fault” may be, it’s pressed for competition with the roiling churn of “Two Snakes,” which provided many excellent opportunities for Abraham to give the audience some mic time. The latter half of Hidden World drags slightly compared with its bombastic opening, but there were plenty of highlights like “Manqueller Man,” “Triumph of Life” and “Vivian Girls.” After the set ended, the band left the stage for what felt like a longer than usual amount of time. However, the band eventually made their way back out on stage for one final helping of hardcore. The song the band chose to treat the audience with was fittingly, the opening track from the album that came out after Hidden World – “Son the Father” from The Chemistry of Common Life.
Fucked Up Set List:
David Comes to Life
Carried Out to the Sea
Baiting the Public
Fate of Fates
Blaze of Glory
Triumph of Life
Son the Father