In a hurry to get inside, I forgot to look up at the marquee to see if Fucked Up was really spelled out up there for the world to see.
Why in such a hurry? For one, it was a rainy cold mess outside. But mainly, 3 sets with a lot of potential await me inside.
“he has that perfect tone that rises above the gritty riffs”
I checked out Leather Feather’s MySpace before the show. 32 friends and 3 live demos didn’t seem like it would worth an early arrival at first glance. But, I watched a live youtube video on the page, and their sound actually intrigued me, along with their heavy handed stage presence. They did not disappoint. With THX 1138 playing in the background, there were futuristic cops stationed in the crowd with long poles. When the band hit the stage in their cleanroom outfits, a couple of the ‘cops’ came on stage, but some stayed in the crowd the entire time. It was quite a production for an opener. This band is a little less punk and a little more hard rock than the other 2 bands, but they were definitely in my realm. I thought the vocalist was great- he has that perfect tone that rises above the gritty riffs, which were also well done. They sounded like a very tight, well practiced band. They took me by surprise and I would totally see them again.
“This one used a red phone handset as a mic”
Mika Miko, from LA, is 4 girls and a guy. I don’t know why they didn’t get 1 more girl to be their drummer, but I feel like they should have. There’s something very throwback about this band…I couldn’t really put my finger on it, probably because I never got into the punk girlie band thing- call me anti-feminist, but I generally prefer dudes in this role. I thought the guitarist and bassist were quite good, though. The set went into what I call ‘a bedroom performance’ territory- which means there is little audience connection and it was like they were preforming for themselves in their bedroom. One singer was very Mel from Flight of the Conchords, the other embodied the innocence of Belinda Carlisle. This one used a red phone handset as a mic. This annoyed the hell out of me. Even when they sounded good, this gimmick got in the way. All I will remember form this set is that damn red phone. But, with minute and a half songs, the small doses made it somewhat enjoyable.
Fucked Up is, obviously in name alone, and interesting band. From Toronto, they’ve been around since 2001, but have had a delayed fame of sorts due to their incessant insistence on releasing 2 song 7″s in old school form, limiting the ability for them to catch on. They make obscure, high-brow references in their songs and their stage names. They have gained a reputation for having crazy shows. Then they released a highly acclaimed 9 song album, The Chemistry of Common Life. They’ve ripped an MTV Canada studio apart, and been invited back to do it again. And they’ve played a 12 hour set in NYC once.
Fucked Up is 3 guitars, 1 female bassist, 1 drummer, and 1 large and in charge main man. I was a bit nervous about witnessing him live- in my head I was likening him to El Duce, plus I knew I would be viewing his back hair, my number one phobia. Turns out, he’s more of the jovial type with a heart of gold.
“The punk spirit immediately infects the crowd”
They immediately launched into “Son the Father”, my favorite track from their latest album. The punk spirit immediately infects the crowd; pushing, shouting, and fist pumping ensue. Even though the track is missing that flute intro, it still maintains its epic flavor, as do the songs that follow. This is not your average punk band.
Pink Eyes, the aforementioned lead man, made the show. He quickly shed his t-shirt, pulling up his shorts Urkle- style for a brief period of time. He suctioned a plastic cup to his head and traipsed around like a unicorn. Then he added two more cups to become Hellboy with an outtie. He proved that the microphone cord could almost reach to the back of the venue when he jumped off stage to trot around in the welcoming audience. He did a cartwheel. And then, as if he were a HRC twitter follower, he bounced over to my side of the stage, stood right in front of me, turned around, and dropped trou. There you go HRC, you don’t like back hair? Lemme show you some ass hair! It was like watching a car accident- I couldn’t tear my eyes away from it. New phobia: ass hair.
They went through almost every track from Chemistry. Pink Eyes peppered the breaks between songs with things like:
– how he’s pregnant (really, his wife is pregnant- it wasn’t a fat joke)
– how he thought no one was going to show up for the show due to the weather, and thanked us
– “this is a song about hating summer” to introduce “I Hate Summer”
– they played a benefit earlier that day for Oscar Grant, and talked about how the rest of the country hadn’t picked up the story but they were trying to do their part
– how a couple of the band members were “having a bad day”
– a freestyle about SF and Oakland, claiming himself the best Canadian rapper out there (what about Snow?!?). I couldn’t understand any of the words, but it sounded good.
They left the stage, but were quickly brought back out to the crowd’s loud cheers. When Pink Eyes started mentioning a very special guest- some people started shouting “No Jello!”, but of course, we all knew it would be Jello. But, this may be my favorite guest appearance of the many I’ve seen him do, simply because it involved The Ramones’ “Blitzkreig Bop”, several wicked stage dives, and a naked man.
I couldn’t believe it when it ended- it was only 11pm! I had really wanted to hear their cover of “Son of Sam”…but it’s always good when a band leaves you wanting more, right?
We stuck around and got the nifty handwritten setlist. Then we were waiting to buy some merch when we discovered a $20 bill on the ground. After asking everyone in line if it was theirs, we decided to invest it in Fucked Up and came home with not 1, not 2, but 5 7″s and 2 posters. Coupled with 2 setlists and The Independent poster, this might be my most fruitful show ever.
I left the venue glowing, and forgot again to look up at the marquee again. Luckily, Umlaut got a pic. To my joy, The Independent rocked it. Fucked Up- in your face!
Ray’s got a real quality pic here.
Fucked Up performance: 9.25/10
Mika Miko performance: 7.5/10
Leather Feather performance: 8.5/10
venue (The Independent): 9.5/10
value ($13.00/ticket): 10/10