14 November 2007

Fucked Up... in The Times?

Toronto's Fucked Up is one of the only hardcore bands around today that I like. And now The Times is on the bandwagon, too. Good for them. Fucked Up is worth it. They are the closest thing to Black Flag since June 27, 1986.

From The Times:

Music Review: ********
Outrage, Bile, Hardcore Punk ... and a Sensible Lost-and-Found
Published: November 12, 2007

“This next song is about the people who want to control our bodies,” said the singer known as Pink Eyes, adding, “This next song is about the police.”

Pause. No music.

“And it would start, if we were a professional band.”

Pink Eyes is the lead roarer in a ferocious band from Toronto. What band? Well, the name won’t be printed in these pages, not unless an American president, or someone similar, says it by mistake. Suffice it to say that this is an unruly hardcore punk band with a name to match. (You can find out more at the official site, lookingforgold.blogspot.com)

On Saturday night at the Music Hall of Williamsburg, Pink Eyes and his band mates provided plenty of mayhem, although the crowd wanted more. “That’s, like, an hour set, people,” he said, incredulous, when impatient fans tried to coax the band back with a complicated combination of cheering and booing.

Someone voiced a preference for songs over speeches. Pink Eyes grew even more incredulous. “Less talking? They’re seriously gone,” he said, referring to the bassist and the drummer, and the three guitarists who sort of sounded like one, only louder. “I’m by myself.”

This band has spent about half a dozen years playing do-it-yourself shows, releasing seven-inch vinyl singles, giving interviews to fanzines and exploring radical political and social theory. Acting more or less like a 1980s hardcore band, in other words, but without seeming like a nostalgia act. And while Pink Eyes’ exhortatory roar, like the quick and dirty chord changes, sometimes evokes old hardcore acts like Poison Idea, the band also has a digressive streak

That streak explains not only “Year of the Pig,” a great and confounding 18-minute leviathan released this year, but also “Hidden World” (Jade Tree), the band’s 2006 double album, which is full of short, sharp rants lengthened by long, squally instrumental sections.

“Baiting the Public,” from that album, sounded more than ever like a riot starter at Saturday’s show. It begins, “I want to smash your house/I want to scratch your car,” and Pink Eyes made this declaration while removing his pants and rearranging his boxer shorts in ways that many other similarly unsvelte lead singers might not.

There was something farcical about the show (it began with flashing strobe lights, a woman in a bikini and lots of cameras; someone was making an independent movie), and Pink Eyes kept apologizing for it. “A little shaky tonight, I’m not gonna lie,” he said.

He also found time to hold forth on corner-store fried chicken (apparently there are side effects), the club’s high balcony (he promised a record to anyone who jumped off it) and the exchange rate. (“We want to support your American peso with our strong Canadian dollar,” he said.)

All night long fans climbed the stage and sometimes climbed the singer, who didn’t seem to mind or even, sometimes, notice. At one point someone threw a plastic trash can into the pit, where it rattled around contentedly. And at night’s end the bassist, who calls herself Mustard Gas, finally came back to the stage to help coordinate the lost-and-found. There was a stray shoe, a stray hat, some stray keys.

Great fun, then, but this band isn’t just having fun. The members are clearly, if complicatedly, committed to an underground punk scene that’s still not dead, despite many pronouncements. And in the lyrics, as in the music, punk-rock bile is only a starting point.

“Crusades,” which inspired a hearty shout-along, seems at various times like an attack on fundamentalism, a tribute to sustainable agriculture, an ambivalent ode to revolutionary passion and a vocabulary lesson. (“Ruderal”?) There’s something inspiring about hearing Pink Eyes shout, “I will rot on the ground!” You can picture him, reeking and undead, just like punk.
And how undeniably Sex Pistols is it too that a whole article in the New York Times is written about them and their name is never mentioned once! Amazing. For once, I'm jealous. Bravo!

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