The spirit of punk-rock is alive and well in California. Whether you prefer skate to surf, or garage to glam, you’re more than likely to find your fill of your favorite flavor somewhere between Oakland and San Diego–––and FIDLAR is right smack in the middle of it all.
Formed in 2009 in Los Angeles under the skate mantra acronym for “fuck it dog,life’s a risk,” FIDLAR quickly made a name for themselves, going on tour with The Black Lips and The Hives just three years after recording their first songs. After releasing their debut EP in 2011, and being named one of Stereogum’s 40 Best New Bands of 2012, the band was fast-tracked to success. Somewhere between their first (self-titled) studio album in 2013, and their most recent 2015 album, Too, FIDLAR reached the top of the California punk-rock scene–––a high ground that they continue to hold and push the boundaries of into the present with their “Too Much Tour.”
On the eleventh stop of their tour, FIDLAR played at Paradise Rock Club, accompanied by fellow Cali punk-rockers SWMRS and The Frights. The tone for the night was immediately set by the intimidating metal barricade dividing the already rowdy crowd from the stage, and the droopy six-foot-tall paper mache letters spelling out F-I-D-L-A-R. By 6:30pm, beer cans already littered the floor, and the smell of sweat and weed permeated the air.
The Frights came on stage around 7:00pm, receiving a well-deserved but unusually warm welcome for an opening band. Much of the audience was already familiar with The Frights, likely having been exposed to them during their tour with SWMRS earlier this year. Highlights from their performance included reggae hit “Tungs” from their most recent album You Are Going To Hate This, and a cover of Weezer’s always popular “Undone” (The Sweater Song).
Around 7:45pm, SWMRS took to the stage with the confidence of a headliner, and the reaction from the crowd to match. All eyes immediately went to singer Cole Becker as he approached the microphone in a cotton dress with “Fuck Donald Trump” scrawled across the chest in Sharpie, and proceeded to denounce the president-elect for his views against women and minorities. Unsurprisingly, Becker’s comments resonated strongly with the crowd of Massachusetts punks, whipping them into a frenzy that would last for the remainder of the show.
Their politically charged performance continued throughout the night, fueling both the crowd and the band, resulting in a particularly raw and passionate performance. With such powerful emotions in play, every song seemed to carry additional weight, especially crowd pleasers “Miley” and “Harry Dean.” To end their set, SWMRS played “Drive North,” completely obliterating what remained of the boundaries of the mosh pit, and even blurring the line between band and audience as Becker leaped wildly into the crowd.
Chaos ensued long after SWMRS left the stage, with several fans continuing to crowd surf to the house music. At 9:00pm, the gloomy paper mache letters suddenly came to life, shining red, yellow, and blue under the glow of a tangle of homemade tube lighting, and FIDLAR finally appeared on stage.
Picking up where SWMRS had left off, FIDLAR embraced the mood of the crazed crowd, diving straight into savagely spirited cover of Beastie Boys’ “Sabotage,” immediately followed by the band’s anthem song, “Cheap Beer.” By 9:15pm, the mosh pit had again spread across the room and begun creeping up the mezzanine, and by the time the band played the first notes of “No Waves,” the upper level was completely engulfed. The unrelenting pace continued for the next hour, as FIDLAR continued to fire hits from their arsenal of crowd pleasers, including “40 oz. on Repeat,” and “West Coast.” Singer Zac Carper gracefully dodged several beer cans pitched on stage, embracing the warm spray of PBR as he continued to play.
At the end of the show, Carper called for the crowd to quiet down and try something crazy, asking everyone sit down on the floor. After a few minutes of wrestling with the unruly sea of fans, Carper managed to momentarily subdue them, and the band plunged into one of their most uproarious songs, “Cocaine.” As soon as Carper bellowed out the lyrics of the first verse, the crowd rose to their feet in unison, ending the night in a spectacular show of fervent energy.