We’re all just Fucked Up, after all

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Photos by Pedro Paredes // Written by Kevin Quandt //

Fucked Up with Tijuana Panthers, The She’s //
The Independent – San Francisco
August 19th, 2014 //

Just the other day I was having a discussion with a buddy who was explaining his overwhelmingly preference for live band concerts, as compared to a live producer. He went on to discuss his love for a good frontman, or woman, and I fully agreed with this observation. Alas, he did not make it to Fucked Up at The Independent this past Tuesday to witness one of the most authentic frontmen in the business.

The masses came early to The Independent on this evening as a variety of rock bands were holding court — The She’s took the opening slot while Long Beach natives Tijuana Panthers handled the second slot. Tijuana Panthers brought an enjoyable amalgam of scuzzed-out surf punk that seemed to be received well. But folks were here to see the six-headed art-core beast that many have come to cherish as Fucked Up. By the time each member was ready to launch into the opening song, “Paper the House”, it was hard to ignore that legendary Fucked Up singer, Damian Abraham, looked like half the man he used to be. Abraham later explained he had lost 120 pounds over the past year or so, which received a blast of applause. Yet, this was not the only characteristic of the band that has changed as they, and we all, get a little older.

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2009 was a great year for Fucked Up as all their hard work in the early years was paying off in dividends as their banner release, The Chemistry of Common Life, garnered universal praise, eventually leading them to winning the Polaris Music Prize. Now, five years later, they have released a few more well-received albums, most recently Glass Boy, which relies heavily on themes of aging in the punk scene. How does one grow old while holding onto their youthful ideals of rebellion? Well, for this band of punks, they keep on blasting brutal music into the ears, and eyes, of devote fans who keep on returning as they too grow a little more grey and develop just a few wrinkles.

But enough of that sappy shit, as Fucked Up brought their pummeling sound on this evening. Within only a few minutes the three-guitarist band launched into fan favorite “Queen of Hearts” as Abraham paced around on stage reciting phrases of lyrics with blistering intensity. It’s this characteristic that keeps one foot well-rooted into hardcore punk, while the band has recently floated towards a slightly less-hardcore sound, overall. Luckily those who were early fans were treated to some of the older, more raw songs like “Police” — chants of “I can’t stand the police” were included.

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Now, it’s hard to not say that Abraham is the show here. Not only because he is a musical madman who would rather be in the pit with his fans than on the stage with his longtime band, but also because frankly, the rest of the band seemed aloof at times. Sure, all but one help in the vocal department, but trying to compete for attention with Abraham would be a futile effort. The frontman, now shirtless (which is tradition), was cruising all over The Indy like a whirlwind. First, he was up in the seats on house right, and the next thing you know, he is having a full-blown mock-luchadore wrestling match with a fan in front of the stage. I kid you not.

“I Hate Summer” and “The Other Shoe” were highlights of the set. Each song seemed punctuated by Abraham’s off-the-cuff banter where he remarked on everything from the lack of pot smoking in the club to his newfound love for Olive Garden. And, it’s with this spontaneity that keep fans returning, tour after tour, even if we are just a bunch of aging punks.

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