There was extra attention for this year's Fucked Up Weekend in Toronto after Fucked Up scooped the Polaris Prize in September. A slew of bands came to town again for this yearly event with three nights of hardcore, thrash and rock 'n roll antics - although anyone expecting to see fellow Polaris nominees Metric would've been disappointed, but a nice tongue-in-cheek gag to have their name included on the flyer.
The weekend kicked off proper on Thursday, October 29, at Sneaky Dee's. I arrived at Sneaky's about half an hour before the first band came on and the initial turn-out was low, but the venue eventually filling up as the night wore on. This gig never really got going properly for me - I won't mention names because I just wasn't into it. I spent my evening making small-talk with strangers, including a 50-something Scottish expat called Pat.
Thursday night wasn't a complete dud though as one of the earlier bands grabbed my attention. I'd been sat at the back of Sneaky's supping on beer when France Has The Bomb came on, and by their second song I'd chugged my beer, leapt off my barstool and made my way to the front. I was pulled in by the swaggering cool bassline and dirty garage grime of "Grim Dagger".
"France Has The Bomb is the bomb."
Swaggering is an apt descriptor for France Has The Bomb. At the front of the noise, rich in garage and post-punk flavours, was Srini Radhakrishna, who was backed by another Asian sensation on guitar and the band's line-up is complete by an all-white rhythm section. I was gripped for the entire set of France Has The Bomb. Check them out, they have some 7-inches available on Dusty Medical. Seriously, France Has The Bomb is the bomb.
Friday night, and I arrive hopelessly late at The Kathedral where Fucked Up were headlining. Some slackness on my part had led me to leaving it too late to get tickets, and I knew that it was bound to be a sell-out. Nevertheless, I figured I'd try my luck at the door, and I arrived, camera in hand and made my best attempt of pulling off a Derren Brown style mind-melt and just walk inside past the security, but it wasn't happening. Access denied. Damn. I mean, seriously, don't you know who I think I am?
Anyway, not to worry, I'd end up catching Fucked Up at the end of the weekend.
I spent my Friday night a few blocks down Queen Street at The Hideout. With some great company, good music, and a few crazy Halloween costumes - hat's off to the Mad Hatter - good times were had. Local boys You Handsome Devil played a mix of their own stuff and a bunch of rad covers including faves by the Ramones, The Misfits and The Dead Kennedys. I danced and pogoed the night away, scoring some free JD shots and a t-shirt along the way, then sprawled onto Queen St with an Italian belle as my partner-in-crime who I'd discovered shared my love for Wayne's World references. Together we sung "I've got five-thousand dollars" to anyone who cared. I eventually found my way home at 5am. Fucked Up Weekend was now in full flow.
After waking up at Insane O'Clock on Saturday morning for a hangover-quelling breakfast and to seek out a Halloween costume, day become night before I knew it and I found myself in the convenient locale of a house party just a block from the intersection of College and Bathurst. Sneaky Dee's was so temptingly close, and eventually at the best time possible my itchy-feet led me to bail on this party.
There were no issues getting inside Sneaky's - the placed was rammed but luckily enough there was still room for a few more. Adorned in some kind of suicidal priest get-up, I was asked to remove the fully-functional rope noose from around my neck before going upstairs - I gladly obliged, but then put it back on as soon as I was in the pit. I kept the rope on for the rest of the night, with a Deadly Little Miho holding the other end as I bounced around inside Sneaky's like a true freak on a leash, while trying my best not to trip or strangle any fellow patrons.
Fucked Up took to the stage and it was a maelstrom of hot 'n sweaty rock 'n roll bliss from the offset. Damian Abraham was the leading man and the catalyst for the tapped chaos that ensued for the duration of Fucked Up's set.
Fucked Up played a set which largely comprised of material from 2008's The Chemistry of Common Life, with "Crooked Head" being one of the best songs of the night.
"Damian Abraham was the catalyst for the tapped chaos that ensued."
The intensity of this show reached levels of mammoth proportions, instigated by the hairy behemoth of a figure that Abraham's cuts, a veritable ringmaster of proceedings. Rock shows rarely reach this level of intensity, but Fucked Up delivered the kind of performance that the baiting Halloween crowd of ghouls, drags and hags had been lusting for. The pit was a melee of plastic fangs, fake blood, and a whole lot of sweat and spilt beer. It was exhilarating.
An awesome night. I rank Fucked Up highly, and I'd place them somewhere close behind The Bronx as being among the best hardcore punk rock bands of this decade.
My own personal Fucked Up weekend would roll on for another day or so before eventually all the debauchery came to an end and the post-weekend hangover set in, quickly followed by almost a week of self-imposed quarantine after picking up the flu and a fever. That was my Fucked Up Weekend - I hope your Halloween was equally as legendary!
© Brian Banks
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