FUCKED UPEVOL @ EBGBS 25/10/16
Earning their reputation as a live band of unique intensity and ferocity, FUCKED UP have long been regarded as one of the best acts on the circuit. After over a decade of rampant live shows (including a particularly memorable one in this city only a year ago) and a string of vibrant and ecstatic albums, the Toronto natives are in town to mark the 10-year anniversary of their debut LP, Hidden World, which they will perform tonight in its entirety. Straddling the divisions between hardcore, post-punk and pop, the album was revelatory to those new to punk and those who had grown up with it alike.
Despite tonight’s show having been moved from its original location of the Invisible Wind Factory, there are few venues in the city that seem more perfectly suited to Fucked Up’s brand of pop-tinged hardcore than down in the basement of the newly re-developed EBGBs. Offering a new medium-sized venue to a city that’s sadly seen the closure of many of its most loved spaces in the past few years, its dark, sweaty and claustrophobic space seems like it was built with nights like this in mind.
This being an underground cavern, the temperature has quickly risen and by the time Fucked Up (repping local skate label Mersey Grit T-shirts) take to the stage, the crowd are a powder keg waiting to be lit. Once the chugging riffs of album opener Crusades kick in, frontman Pink Eyes’ (AKA Damian Abraham) infectious energy works them into a sweaty frenzy. With a repertoire of mic tricks and stage poses honed from thousands of hours of live shows, Mr. Eyes has the front row of hardcore fans eating from his hand, throwing themselves into each other and screaming along to each and every word. Abraham exudes the type of energy that the best kind of punk music has the potential to bring out of people: aggressive, explosive but inclusive, celebratory and cathartic. His relationship with the audience brings everyone into the fold. He looks audience members straight in the eye, passes them the mic to sing along and even offers out hugs. The cumulative effect of this back and forth between performer and the crushing mass of audience is a joy to behold.
The band pummel through the remainder of the album at a blistering pace. Tighter than a snare skin, each song bleeds into the next and the energy rarely drops from maxing out. Indeed, there are a few audience members who have to duck out at a few moments just to catch a breath. Not the band, however, who push through with impressive exuberance and energy. It would be hard to convince anyone it’s been a decade since the early shows that earned them their reputation, as the band are just as vital and intense as ever.