Before you go see FIDLAR, take inventory of everything on you. By the end of the show, you may come to find that you’ve lost a shoe, your eyeglasses, half of a sleeve from your T-shirt, or your mind.
But for everything you could possibly lose, there are just as many things to gain: a permanent smile, a revived sense of community and respect, and the best night you’ve had in a long, long time.
Los Angeles garage-punks FIDLAR took over Crescent Ballroom last night as an early stop on its U.S. tour with Chicago garage-rock protégés The Orwells. And they killed it.
For those of you who have ever seen a big name perform at Crescent, you already know that it’s very rare — almost unheard of — for a local band to placed on the bill with national acts. That’s why last night’s show was so great: Playboy Manbaby, a Tempe band with a dedicated following, opened for FIDLAR per the band’s request.
“It makes sense to me,” said FIDLAR bassist Brandon Schwartzel. “You’re a touring band, you’re playing a show in some city, and it just makes sense to have a band from that city play with you. People will come to see their friend’s band play.”
PBMB played four new songs, and even though, for many, it was the first time hearing them, the crowd went absolutely nuts. Around their fourth song, I was pressed up against the stage so tightly that I began to lift off the ground. I was floating for a solid three seconds while frontman Robbie Pfeffer sang about a Potato Wallet. That was cool.
“The show’s over, right? I can go home now?” a nondescript teenager said in between huge panting breaths after Playboy played its last note and the lights turned off. Oh, nondescript teenager. Just you wait.
Following Playboy, The Orwells might be one of the most impressive bands I’ve listened to in a while. If a garage-rock band from Chicago can tour with FIDLAR, play Lollapalooza, and have their latest single featured on NPR before the oldest band member is 19, then what the hell am I doing?
Formed in L.A. when singer Zac Carper was living in a recording studio where guitarist Elvis Kuehn interned, FIDLAR hit the garage-punk jackpot.
Since sharing the stage with the Black Lips in 2012, it’s toured with the Hives, played a ridiculous number of music festivals, hit the road with with stoner-pop duo Wavves, and it’s just recently come home from Australia.
It’s had the equivalent of one month off in this past year.
Despite their recent successes, the dudes of FIDLAR have stayed the same. Any talk about how “fame has changed them” can be debunked instantly, and that’s obvious after spending 30 seconds in their green room.
“I don’t think anything’s changed,” Carper said. “I mean, this pays our rent now, which is tight. We just toured Australia. How else in the world would the four of us ever be able to get to go to Australia? We’re pretty lucky.”
Carper was right; nothing changed, especially when it came to their performance last night. The blocked-off under-21 area of the floor swelled, and before FIDLAR was onstage, bodies fought for a place to fit comfortably.
Within the first two songs FIDLAR played, I had lost one shoe, my eyeglasses, and bruises were already in the make. A girl with lavender hair rocked out in a wheelchair at the front of the stage, throwing sweaty boys and ruthless girls off her as they dove off the stage or pushed into her from the side. It was probably the most punk-rock thing I’ve seen.
If FIDLAR was aiming for a 10, the crowd’s response to their set implicates that they scored an 11. The energy level was so high that, even when it slowed down to play more toned-down songs, like “I Just Wanna Die,” showgoers were in the throes of a body tsunami.
Not one for encores, FIDLAR prefers to make the build-up to the end of their show stellar and end the set with something memorable, and that’s exactly what they did. Beginning the end with “The Punks are Finally Taking Acid,” FIDLAR’s last three songs were heavy, fast, fun and basically all about drugs. Without stopping, it moved into, “Cocaine,” at which point I was convinced that the entire audience had actually started to melt.
Then Carper stopped.
“How many of you are in a band?” he asked, only to receive a roaring response and tons of hands fly up. “Good! Keep doing that, because it’s f-cking awesome! And so easy! And we did it!”
With that, Carper took his mic off the stand and dove into the audience at the first note of their show closer, “Wake, Bake, Skate.” Carper rode along the sweaty hands of 100 or so adrenaline-pumped kids, singing words they could all relate so well to. The entire floor pulsed, strangers pushed past each other, friends hugged each other out of excitement, and every single person in that moment was smiling.
Earlier that night, Schwartzel told me that the band plays as if they were in L.A. in every city.
“We play with that same energy,” he said. “It’s fun for us and fun for you, so we always try to make it as best as possible.”
We like to call the morning after a particularly awesome concert a “bangover.” However banged up and sore and battered you feel the next morning is a tell-tale sign of what the previous night’s show was like. And, let me tell you, this morning, I couldn’t even leave my bed.
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