Walking down the stairs of The Biltmore Cabaret on Monday night, the smell of sweat and cheap beer assaulted my nostrils. Leather and denim-clad punks moshing to Vancouver band B-Lines gave a strong impression that this crowd was running on party fumes. I was still mentally preparing myself for a night ending with me wearing a formerly white, off-yellow t-shirt and a few oddly-placed bruises. After all, this was the last night of summer for a lot of people. Labour Day marks the start of the school year; the last night to not care about whatever and throw both fuck-you fingers until they almost hit the short ceiling.
One of the most drawing aspects of a punk show, for me, is the crowd. Just like the music, a punk show crowd is abrasive, coarse, full of piss and vinegar. Essentially, all the people who complain about space, volume, and average drunkenness, are sitting at home eagerly awaiting another academic year with open arms. Probably asleep before the show even began. What remains are those of us who are simply trying to squeeze out the last few drops from our beer-soaked, smoke-stained months of school-free debauchery. Fuck it Dog, Life’s a Risk.
SoCal band FIDLAR took the room where B-Lines left off and hit the dancefloor running. The music was even rowdy enough to attract music guru/interviewer extraordinaire Nardwuar from every other concert in the city. He stood near the sidelines with his trusty handycam while I launched myself into the sweaty chaos. Elbows flailing, knees bouncing, and head banging, I indiscriminately threw myself into man, woman, and child. FIDLAR’s lead singer, Zac Carper, taught everyone the importance of being a slacker with laid-back lyrics about indulging in alcohol, cocaine, and embracing stonerdom. Songs called “Cheap Beer”, “Stoked and Broke”, “Black Out Stout” and “Wake Bake Skate” are fun and goofy, but at the same time include lyrics that everyone can relate to. It’s rock ‘n’ roll at its finest. No need to whittle it down to a sub-genre like skater-punk or slacker-rock, FIDLAR is rock. Plain, simple, dirty rock.
With beer foaming from my mouth, I rocked and rolled all night long. The set was a little short (just over an hour including the encore), but understandable due to the high energy level. A testament to the amount of energy these guys put into their live shows was when Zac sprawled on his stomach as he waited for the rest of the band to come out for the encore. Too exhausted to walk the dozen steps to the green room. Heavy, fast, rock riffs don’t allow for breaks or time to breathe. Especially, when you’re singing on top of everything. Poor guy.
Overall the show was full of raw badditude. A human tornado formed in the middle of the dance floor. Chaotic at times, but controlled for most of the set. People swapping in for their favourite songs, or out to shake off the sweat and have a drink. Shout out to the man on stage who was double-shifting as merch booth coordinator and stage security for the band. If we were exhausted after the set, I can’t imagine how he felt.
Check out Jordan Mounteer’s review of FIDLAR’s self-titled debut album released earlier this year.