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Fucked Up at the Echoplex on Saturday April 17th, 2011

‘I wonder what’s going on right now at Coachella’ said a guy of one the opening bands for Fucked Up at the Echoplex on Saturday night… ‘Who gives a fuck!’ screamed a member of the audience, and yes, people could not care less about the hipster festival, they knew they were here for the real sweating-moshing-pushing-screaming-surfing-jumping thing and basically their idea of having a real good time.

There are a lot of reasons to get excited by a show of the Toronto band Fucked Up: their frontman Damien ‘Pink Eyes’ Abraham, is a fat, affable guy who literally offers his half naked body to the public several times as if he was some kind of adored sacred cow, their music unleashes some punk fury with violent fast guitars and drums, and the spectacle is almost as crazy on stage as in the middle of the crowd. Yes, last Saturday night people were really into it, and despite the fact I was not touching the ground all the time, and was crushed against the barricade during the whole show, I enjoyed the show and managed to stay in the front, on the side of the stage; it may actually have been better than in the middle of the moshing and surfing male-dominated rows behind me, who started acting crazy at the first riffs. 

The antics of Damien Abraham was reminding me those of Les Savy Fav's Tim Harrington, whom I saw a few months ago at the Getty center, with an even wilder, more decadent attitude: after the first song he had already removed his tee-shirt as expected, exposing proudly himself, and was getting close to the adoring crowd, lying flat on them, his arms opened, making a cross figure, while people were touching his large belly, pinching his man boobs in a sort of weird ritual. 

Having just walked by the evangelical Angelus temple which is located very close to the Echoplex, and seeing people leaving the building after a religious ceremony, I could not stop thinking about the evangelical sentence, ‘Take and eat; this is My body’… and when you are aware of the anti-religious content of most of Fucked Up’s lyrics, it makes completely sense,
Oh but he kept his pants all along nevertheless, so sorry, there was no complete full frontal nudity, and I just had the impression he was getting naked rather for cooling reasons than for shock values.

When he was done with a song, his rage and anger were completely dissipating and he was actually thanking the crowd with affection, and a voice that could have come from a lovable teddy bear.
It was becoming really hot, and out of compassion for his fans, Damien brought a large bucket of iced water bottles he distributed to the front rows before plunging his whole head into the empty bucket and then splashing the crowd like a wet dog. He is an entertaining guy, there’s no doubt about it, wandering on stage only wearing kids socks on his feet, jumping with a wild indestructible energy, constantly raising his arms to the ceiling to scream his anger to the sky, haranguing the crowd with anger, wrapping the thread of his mic around himself, acting on stage like a potential trainwreck, which curiously always gets away without any damage.

I actually found the music much more melodic than I expected, despite a saturation of the sound (well I was in the front and the head between the amps), and despite the fact that I could not concentrate too much on the music, trying to save my spot and my ass all the time. Call it hardcore if you want but Mike Haliechuck, Josh Zucker and Ben Cook on guitars, Sandy Miranda on bass and Jonah Falco on drums built an expanding sonic universe with a Sex Pistols energy, many vibrating, chiming layers of guitars, a sort of AC/DC screaming raucous howl from Damian, and even some female backup vocals at some point by Sandy.
The security guards could not keep up with the catching of people ejected from the crowd, and a few actually landed in Damian’s arms. It was chaos and people were enraged, someone behind me tried to climb on stage, taking support of my shoulder and someone else’s, everyone was out of control, all captivated by the bigger than life stage presence of the frontman.
But all this rage has vanished when, after the last song, Damien Abraham was among the crowd, giving tight hugs to each one of his fans, going from furious madness to group hugging in only one minute

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