Fucked Up played the Scala tonight to showcase Glass Boys, their fourth studio album and the follow-up to the critically acclaimed 2011 epic, David Comes To Life.
Playing witness to a Fucked Up show is always something very special. Larger than life frontman, Damian Abraham (AKA Pink Eyes), is utterly compelling. Sweaty and topless, he spends the entirety of the show stage-diving and ploughing his way through the crowd, while the triple-guitar battalion of Mike Haliechuck, Ben Cook, and Josh Zucker provide a thick wall of ferocious melodies and world-crushing riffs behind him on stage.
The show begins tonight with the blazing new album opener, Echo Boomer. Within seconds, Abraham dives head first into the crowd. With a goofy grin, he fools around, waving his hands in the air and playfully wearing a deflated beach ball on his head for the remainder of the song.
The Canadian sextet storm through a blistering set of old gems – Baiting The Public, David Comes To Life, Queen Of Hearts and Son The Father – as well as new songs – Paper House and Sun Glass. The new songs carry echoes of Dinosaur Jr. and Husker Du, with the anthemic charge and guttural intensity of Negative Approach. Abraham’s chaotic performance is soaked in 80’s hardcore, with a pinch of GG Allin’s unpredictable madness and self-inflicted forehead injuries. Abraham even pauses mid-song to pose for photographs whilst submerged within the crowd and, at one point, he’s up by the sound desk, wearing a plastic pint cup he smashed into his head, as a hat. He hugs and kisses fans as if they were old friends. An infectious energy the audience relish.
Despite looking more of a light-weight than heavy-weight these days, Abraham’s performance still packs a weighty punch. On his weight loss he explains, “I lost weight, but I swear to God it wasn’t on purpose. A side-effect of the weed. I was beautiful before I lost the weight!” Announcing, “This song is for anyone who’s ever been called fat and ugly,” he charges into old favourite I Hate Summer, a poignant song about hiding physical insecurities behind layers of clothing, summer being a time when there is no place to hide.
The full-throttle of Police and the soaring rock melodies of Black Albino Bones cause a riotous reaction from the crowd. Abraham’s bellowing growl exposes the beating heart of every song with lashings of rage and desperation while bassist, Sandy Miranda’s softer backing vocals provide a fragile contrast. The crowd erupt for The Other Shoe. Howling along to the chorus ,’Dying on the inside, Dying on the inside,’ crowd surfers pour over the barrier. Gut -wrenching lyrics of love, loss and redemption send spine-tingling goosebumps as the tempo builds; ‘Loved the book but I hate the end, Gained a lover but I lost a friend. Straight to worst, from the best. Nothing fills that hole in my chest. It can’t be comfortable when the whole thing’s about to fall.’
What makes Fucked Up so special is that their music is always pushing forward whilst still looking back. Growing old gracefully, they haven’t forgotten their hardcore punk roots. They push the boundaries of this genre through progression and experimentation with every new album. Active for over a decade, they have consistently continued to grow and add layers to their sound, whilst still retaining that element of aggression and punk rock fury.
The show comes to a close with stomping hardcore anthem, Crusades, from their 2006 debut album, Hidden World. Abraham thanks everyone for coming, taking time to shake hands with the security for their valiant effort supervising tonight’s madness and mayhem.
Fucked Up may be flying high right now, but their feet are firmly on the ground. The band stay behind long after the show to chat, sign records and pose for photographs. Abraham even offers hugs and words of wisdom on his “two favourite things in the world” – hardcore punk and wrestling. Heartfelt and humble, he is genuinely excited about meeting the people who love his band. There are no rock star egos here.
A triumphant and heart-warming show from a truly sincere band who really give a damn about their fans and are clearly having a ridiculous amount of fun being Fucked Up.
Fucked Up @ The Scala 18th June 2014 Photography and Review by Kim Ford