Monday, September 8, 2008

Fucked Up

A few days ago I saw one of my favorite punk bands, Toronto's Fucked Up. Aside from FU's third guitarist, the twelve-year-old-looking Ben Cook, making me feel about a hundred years old, the show was non-stop awesomeness (actually, to be honest, it was once-delayed, once-stopped awesomeness -- delayed by the late arrival of vocalist Damien Abraham, and stopped by a triple guitar string blowout two songs in).

The raw energy level displayed by FU harkens back to earlier days of punk, before Green Day and their ilk made punk into a subgenre of radio pop. People moshed. The Hemlock is a tiny venue (the bar area is at least ten times the size of the live music room). You can drink beer from a glass bottle there. It was sort-of like CBGBs back in the day, only cleaner. Much like many a show at CBGBs, the openers were an odd choice. Strange Boys and Crystal Antlers, with their blues, funk and classic rock inspired brands of punk, were really not the best fit for tour mates, but they were decent enough to sit through.

If you enjoy punk, and haven't heard Fucked Up, you really ought to (and also drummer Jonah Falco's other band, Career Suicide). FU is often compared to Portland greats Poison Idea, and the comparison is definitely apt, especially when talking about their live sets. But, mainly in their recordings, FU also throw in a bit of downtempo, Fugazi-esque material as well. Not downtempo as in redundant, verse-chorus-verse pop punk, but more sophisticated intros, bridges and breaks that add interesting layers on top of what is otherwise an all-out sonic assault.

Since NY, LA and SF have nearly completely succumbed to the all-hip-hop, all-the-time wave of the present, now is the time for unassuming Toronto, Canada to reign over the world of punk. If you haven't checked out FU and their peers in the Toronto punk scene, pogo on over to your nearest record shop and rediscover punk as it was meant to be.