By this point, everyone in Vancouver should be familiar with White Lung, whose recently released sophomore album Sorry isn’t really apologizing for anything. They were a logical opener for Fucked Up at Fortune Sound Club on a crazy Saturday night, after playing the same bill the day before for Rifflandia in Victoria.
The band didn’t seem to be any the worse for wear after their island adventure, and blazed through a pretty quick, extremely well-mixed, set. It was a real pleasure to hear Mish Way’s yowling lyrics so clearly over the din of lazily chaotic lead guitar riffs, especially when you could hear her vocal chords tearing on tracks like “Bag.” While Way was the centre of attention, guitarist Kenneth William deserved credit for turning every chance for pre-song banter into a psychedelic noisy six-string preamble.
It’s hard to start a review of Fucked Up’s epic live performance without first talking about charismatic singer Damian Abraham. Their poetic hardcore album The Chemistry Of Common Life might be the reason the band won 2009’s Polaris Prize, but Abraham and his positive energy are the reasons Fucked Up continue to bring out audiences that normally wouldn’t find themselves at a hardcore show.
From the anthemic introduction to “Queen Of Hearts” onwards, Abraham walked the beat all around Fortune, shaking hands, hugging fans, crushing beer cans, and wrapping the mic cable around himself and everything else in the club. Between songs he talked passionately about the concepts of self-beauty, and how Vancouver just might be his favourite city (sorry, Toronto!).
The beautiful thing about Fucked Up, though, is that an excited frontman isn’t the only card in their deck. Their performance leaned heavily on last year’s concept masterpiece David Comes To Life, and the group have an ingrained musicality that raced neck-and-neck with Abraham for the attention of the crowd.
Considering that Fucked Up juggle three guitars along with standard bass and drum duties, it’s amazing that their set had the clarity it did, stringing intricate psychedelic guitar wah into power-chord breakdowns and particularly beautiful vocal harmonies.
A late-set rendition of “The Other Shoe” had the entire crowd shouting out the chorus with Abraham urging them on. It’s a powerful moment in music when 300 people are screaming, “Dying on the inside!” while outwardly grinning and jumping around.