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Monday, May 31st, 2010

Magic Word

Fucked Up and $100 at The Toronto Reference Library in Toronto (duh)

Photo By Frank YangFrank YangTruth be told, I don’t really like listening to Fucked Up. This isn’t any sort of comment on them in particular, just the fact that hardcore – their genre of choice – has never done much for me though if I were given the choice of current hardcore acts to listen to, I’d certainly choose them. If The Chemistry Of Common Life was Fucked Up’s Zen Arcade, then let me know when they release their Candy Apple Grey.

That said, I am a big fan of how they’ve become unlikely but excellent musical champions and ambassadors for Toronto at home and abroad, how they’ve used their elevated profile as reigning Polaris Prize winners to shed light on important social issues and their ridiculously entertaining and intense live shows. The hometown pride and sense of community was in full effect this past Friday night when they played a free show in the atrium of the Toronto Reference Library. That’s right, a free hardcore show in the lobby of a public library – no tickets, just show up – as part of the Toronto Public Library’s Make Some Noise Take Some Noise program, which makes sure that the library system is well-stocked with local and Canadian music, holds periodic concerts and workshops to engage the community with their local scene and generally be awesome.

The undercard for the night was almost as far from screaming hardcore as you could get – local country-rock outfit $100, themselves 2009 Polaris Prize long-listers for their debut Forest Of Tears. On record and live, they’ve always come across to me as a decent but not especially exciting act – good at what they do, but not really bringing anything fresh to the table. That general opinion hasn’t changed much, but their set was more entertaining than I remembered them being and the material they introduced as new had more immediacy and personality. And points to singer Simone Fornow for pointing out, while introducing their ode to the bleakness of work “Fourteen Hour Day”, that the Reference Library’s many floors overlooking the atrium would offer librarians an easy way out. A bleak sentiment, but pretty hilarious in context.

Given the disparity in styles between the two acts, it’s not surprising that there was some audience turnaround between sets with some folks who’d been sitting genially at the foot of the stage for $100 wisely decamping for somewhere more out of the line of fire. Wise, because when Fucked Up finally got up there, pretty much all hell broke loose in the very best way. I don’t know if anyone thought that their fanbase might have gotten tamer what with having (marginally) more mainstream exposure, but even though there were many, like me, who’d probably never be at another hardcore show in their lives, the kids crowdsurfing, stage-diving and generally going batshit. It was the sort of thing you’d normally only expect to see in such a locale after some breaking and entering, but this was an officially sanctioned and sponsored event. By the library.

There was a relative lull about mid-set where they invited some strings onstage and frontman Damian Abraham – by this point half-naked as always – set up behind a lectern for the epic-length “Year Of The Ox” but that just gave the audience an opportunity to catch their breath and when the band revved back up, so did the crowd. Despite being knocked down a couple of times, I managed to hold my position at the front side of the stage for most of the show but eventually had to pull back when my camera lens was knocked off the body – that’s not supposed to happen – and ceased functioning. A casualty of rock’n’roll – if you’re gonna go, that’s the way to do it (actually it’s just going to be in the shop a couple weeks). Anyways, from my final vantage point on the perimeter, watching the final throes of the chaos, I couldn’t help marveling – again – that this was happening in the public library. Sometimes – okay, lots of times – I love this city.

Exclaim rounds up what’s coming up for Fucked Up – a Fall tour with Public Enemy and new album entitled David Comes to Life in October chief among them, while Vue, See and Uptown ran features on the band when they were out west a couple weeks ago.

Photos: Fucked Up, $100 @ The Toronto Reference Library – May 28, 2010
MP3: Fucked Up – “Neat Parts”
MP3: Fucked Up – “No Epiphany”
MP3: Fucked Up – “Twice Born”
Video: Fucked Up – “Black Albino Bones”
Video: Fucked Up – “Crooked Head”
MySpace: Fucked Up
MySpace: $100

Interview talks to Emily Haines of Metric. They’re at the Molson Amphitheatre on July 9 and have released a new video from Fantasies.

Video: Metric – “Stadium Love”

Spinner, The Winnipeg Free Press, Whistler Question and Pique talk to Shad about his new record TSOL. He plays the Opera House on June 12 and has a new video. Yes.

Video: Shad – “Rose Garden”

Stereogum gets a status update on the new Black Mountain album from Amber Webber. It may or may not be called Wilderness but it will definitely be previewed when they play the Horseshoe on July 23.

Carl Newman of The New Pornographers gives Chart the incredible true origin of their band name – and it’s not the Jimmy Swaggert quote that’s usually cited. They’re at the Sound Academy on June 15, and as a sidebar, New Pornographers vocalist/keyboardist Kathryn Calder has a solo record coming out entitled Are You My Mother? on August 10.

MP3: Kathryn Calder – “Slip Away”

NPR talks to Win and Will Butler of Arcade Fire about their new record The Suburbs, coming August 3. They play the Toronto Islands on August 14.

Dallas Good of The Sadies talks to JAM and The Winnipeg Free Press while brother Travis chats with The Vancouver Sun. They play a free show at Harbourfront Centre on Canada Day, July 1.

NOW and Exclaim have interviews with Born Ruffians, whose new record Say It is out tomorrow.

Audio Blood Media is kicking off NXNE this year in style – and altitude – with a show on the observation deck of the CN Tower featuring The Meligrove Band, Hollerado and The Balconies. Admission is by contest only – enter here.

Also happening during NXNE is the release of the new Diamond Rings single, which will happen at his June 18 show at Wrongbar. Pitchfork, however, has a streamable preview of the new track – “Show Me Your Stuff” – right now.

And to double back on the “things about Toronto that are awesome/things that happened in the Toronto Reference Library” tip… new Scott Pilgrim Vs The World trailer! Book six – Scott Pilgrim’s Finest Hour – is out July 20 and the movie opens August 13. Midnight opening night screening – who’s in?

Trailer: Scott Pilgrim Vs The World

By : Frank Yang at 8:31 am
Category: Concert Reviews

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RSS Feed for this post4 Responses.
  1. Scott says:

    The Beguiling has a midnight release thing (with O’Malley) on the book’s release. Don’t remember the exact details but I got a flyer for it from them this weekend… will post specifics when I’m home if you don’t snag ’em yourself [smirk].

  2. Sarah says:

    Fucked up was manic! I was stage left doing my best to make sure that the speakers and lights didn’t fall down.

  3. thomaus says:

    Excellent set of Fucked Up photos. Especially knowing how precarious the situation was to shoot. There is something quite unique going on when you capture crisply-focussed, artfully-lit body hair. Shame about the lens, though. You’re starting a tradition: mosh pit = lens repair.

  4. David says:

    Why do you go to concerts of bands whose music you don’t actually like?