By: David Stuckey
November 8, 2009
I don’t know what I was expecting coming into the show, but it certainly wasn’t the sonic beat down I ended up receiving. I figured the Fucked Up weekend was simply a thinly veiled encouragement for everyone to consume copious amounts of alcohol and/or illegal substances over the course of the music festival. A silly lapse of judgment on my part, in that my face actually melted upon exposure to the bands playing that night.
Danger Bay kicked off the shindig with a raucous showcase of old school punk mixed with a healthy dose of garage rock noise experiments. Kind of like The Ramones meets The Strokes, except with more guitar feedback, a female lead singer, and a guitarist sporting threads from the 1930s. Unleashing a rapid fire performance lasting a mere twenty minutes, Danger Bay’s booze-addled affair was simply a good ol’ fashioned punk from four solid musicians who love the music they create and don’t give a shit about conforming to an image or maintaining commercial appeal. Every song was a splendid mess of unstable verses and hardcore choruses, usually topped off with a raving and errant guitar solo. A likeable band whose sole discernable goal is to kick you in the balls with misfit head banger ballads. As such, they made a worthy opening band for the Fucked Up festival.
Minneapolis-based France Has the Bomb followed with a relatively more pop-sensible sound, but still exhibited a strong punk rock vibe marked by dissonant guitar riffs slashed out over guttural bass lines and vocal melodies that were more shouted than sung. With spit-in-your-face lunacy partially tamed by formulaic influences, FHTB lies in that wonderful space between the underground scene too hardcore for most and the safety of mainstream accessibility. The resulting sound is infectious and raw and I’m eager to see how that STD-like sincerity translates into my iTunes library. These guys are on a pretty lengthy tour right now and it shows. Their set was tight and every member did their best to get the crowd’s heads exploding. Honourable mention goes to lanky guitarist Hideo Takahashi for rocking out like a complete madman for the entire time he was on stage.
Local boys Little Girls would have been my favourite of the night if it wasn’t for the awful level mixing from Sneaky Dee’s resident sound engineer. Guitar amps clearly not meant to be pushed so excessively drowned out everything in the vicinity. Josh McIntyer’s singing lurked behind his band mates like a mugger stalking his victims in a dark alleyway, preparing to bash their heads with a lead pipe just for their shoes. Little Girls have a layered, smooth indie rock style (relative to the other bands of the night, anyway), so it was disappointing that they didn’t get the necessary sound check before the show. Or maybe they just jacked their guitar amps to 11 for some reason. In any case, the band managed to showcase some impressive material that really deserves some more attention. With guitars utilizing strange musical modes backed by a driving and catchy rhythm section, Little Girls’ performance was simultaneously haunting and danceable. Party rock for zombies, you might say. Recently signed to Paper Bag Records, it’s clear that this group is on the rise at least in the Canadian music scene, so be sure to keep an ear on these minimalist post punk heavyweights in the making.