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- Fucked Up »
Watching more and more haircuts cram themselves into the upstairs of the Old Blue, one question takes root in DiS’s mind: when exactly did it become cool to like hardcore? Because that’s what Fucked Up are – simply an old-school hardcore punk band. Damian is a monster of a man; even before he (inevitably) removes his shirt he’s an imposing presence, elbowing his way to the bar and back before clambering onstage and declaring “We are Fucked Up. Any of you who think you’re safe… you’re not. Even you at the back, I’m coming to get you.” And then his band launches into ‘Last Man Standing’, and he goes and gets them.
The centrepiece of tonight is, of course, ‘Year Of The Pig’. Tonight’s the launch of the single itself, all 18 minutes and 38 seconds of it, and marks apparently only the third time the song’s ever been played live. By this point Damian’s already spent most of the set barrelling his way around the crowd, less a human pinball than a wrecking ball composed solely of solid flesh. Behind him the rest of the band provide only a temporary distraction, for better or for worse – their particular brand of hardcore has such bite and kick that they don’t really need someone as, er, extroverted as their frontman. But as the opening chords are picked out Damian raises the mic above his head to growl “Pigs at the trough getting faaaaaaaarrrrghghghhhtttt”. Then he jumps onto the floor, hoists some guy in the crowd over his shoulder and throws him at a bunch of people who are all pushing to get as close to the epicentre of this madness as they possibly can, before clambering on top of the bar. In the blink of an eye he’s on top of the merch stand, trying to hang from a meagre plastic chandelier before breaking half of it and slipping back down into the crowd. All this while ‘Year Of The Pig’ continues its irresistible sturm und drang around him, the thick, viscous noise building to a crescendo before suddenly falling away again. It’s the classic, crude quiet/loud build-up that’s been employed so many times before but live – and drawn-out for so long – it becomes almost breathtaking in its intensity. Does it matter that NOFX beat them to the punch by nine years in writing such an opus? Not tonight.
And despite the fact that the crowd seems more excited by Damian’s antics and pleased to be able to push one another around for once rather than really giving themselves to the music (you could argue that’s what happens when a punk band that obviously lives and dies on the energy it receives from the crowd is suddenly placed into the laps of an audience that prides itself on being fashionably uncaring), there’s a real sense that anything could happen. ‘Blaze Of Glory’ and ‘Reset The Ride’ are both met with identical mixed reactions – one small faction tries to get into Damian’s face as much as possible in the time-honoured gang vocal tradition while the majority of the crowd giggles to itself about what the fat man is doing. But despite that there is a real, tangible enthusiasm for Fucked Up that manages to blow away the scenester arm-folders and make them want to jump into one another with almost childlike abandon. It’s fascinating watching a band such as this exert so much power, and in a venue as tiny as this? Dangerously good fun.
Photos: James Sherry
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