Gig/Concert: Fucked Up with One Hundred Dollars
Venue: Toronto Reference Library, Toronto, ON, Canada
Date: 28 May 2010
In one word: Unorthodox
It probably doesn’t surprise you that the Toronto Public Library is the largest public library in this fair nation. It has 99 branches, and has a catalogue of 11 million different items in various media available for loan or to view. If you do a little looking on the TPL website, you can read that the Toronto Public Library strives to “preserve and promote universal access to a broad range of human knowledge, experience, information and ideas” and they strive to “encourage (creativity and) innovation in how (they)underttake (their) work”.
For those of you who haven’t been to the library lately, let me spell out just what all this library jargon is getting at. It means being able to access library resources (books, music, movies, etc.) on the internet, it means playing host to the free Toronto Comic Arts Fair, and most excitingly this means a series of free concerts and workshops from the hottest Canadian local indie acts which the library calls Make Some Noise.
The Make Some Noise concert and workshop series is sponsored by Soundscapes record store, Exclaim magazine, and the Polaris Prize for Canadian independent music. The latest installment was staged this past Friday night at the crown jewel and main branch of the Toronto Public Library, which is the reference library at Yonge and Bloor. The showcase was the unlikely pairing of two very stylistically different Toronto based acts, country act One Hundred Dollars and hardcore band Fucked Up.
One Hundred Dollars are a country band with a sound that’s rooted in classic. I saw them perform last December as a special guest of Jason Collett on the last night of his Dakota Tavern residency, and I was sold on them. The band is fronted by the young Simone Schmidt whose look is as charmingly unpolished as the sound of her voice. Rawer still are her lyrics about life working 14 hour days in the Timmon mines, or on the Alberta Tarsands. Her lyrical tendency to cover pressing issues facing the nation reminds me of my favourite country artist, the man in black, Mr. Johnny Cash. It’s just a shame that it’s so hard to hear her between the poor acoustics (all those books absorb a lot of sound) and the chatter. People look a little bored. When I ask her about it, she responds with a self-assured shrug. “What do you expect? It’s a punk show.”
Fucked Up is last year’s unlikely Polaris Prize winner, and when they get up on stage the tone of the show totally changes. As I catch the first few strains of the band’s unique blend of punk rock and metal music, I find myself surprised that I’m enjoying this punk show for indie kids. Almost immediately moshing breaks out in front of the stage. Before the show I was reading about how Fucked Up’s fans are famous for destroying shit, and the librarians must be well aware because there’s a library worker or two up on stage holding onto the amplifiers which are getting a bit of a beating.
The lead singer of Fucked Up is the only one that looks like they should be in a hardcore band. He’s hairy, bearded, covered in tattoos, can shout like he’s getting paid, and is friendly? He brings his baby son onto stage for a song he’s nicknamed “Holden” (the real song name alludes me). The gesture is more sentimental than I was expecting, until he calls baby Holden the result of unprotected sex. As well as doing the genre better than anyone else I’ve ever seen, Fucked Up get some mad cred from me for releasing a series of benefit records with 100% of the profits going to help find missing and murdered aboriginal women. (One Hundred Dollars was brought on board to the project in 2007, which is where the unlikely pairing shares some common ground.) “If you’re going to buy anything from us tonight,” lead singer Damian Abraham tells us, “buy this record. Download the rest. You’re taking food out of the mouth of my child, but that’s fine.”
The highlight of the night definitely comes though when Fucked Up performed the latest from their zodiac series, “a dramatic reading of year of the ox (for our listening pleasure)”. By the end of nigh fans were going crazy, swarming the stage to dance with the band, and then diving into the crowd for a little surf. Madness, but contained madness. If these guys had been around when I was in highschool they would’ve been gods, but since they weren’t, then they must be the most fun I’ve had in a library (since the last TPL Make Some Noise installation anyways).
“I’m sure I’m not the first shirtless guy in the reference library”, Damian jokes with us as he peels off a layer of clothing sweat-soaked from the intensity of his performance. Hopefully he won’t be the last. Somewhere in their graves are the restless bones of passed librarians, rolling over at the thought that anyone called Fucked Up would be promoted at the public library. They’re probably burning with anger thinking of Simone singing her lyrics about girls who never come when they get “Careless Love”. Instead the librarians have decided to legitamize Canadian indie culture by using their public space to provide free shows open to all ages, and preserving a catalogue of indie music which is available for loan at any of the library locations. You can check out what’s hot in indie music, as well as follow upcoming performances and free workshops on how to make music or promote your band at Make Some Noise. Kinda makes you want to check out the public library, now doesn’t it?
© Natascha Malta, Music Vice
Toronto’s hometown hardcore faves Fucked Up playing in a public library? With One Hundred Dollars in support? And a crowd of four or five hundred people, foot-shuffling, moshing, crashing in waves, and even surfing to it all? While I ran around from the first to fourth floors, chasing light and trying to create art while capturing my own perspective on this unique and unorthodox gig?
Yes, yes, yes and yes!
I didn’t dream it, it happened. There was live music in a public library. Perhaps the most memorable moment was when Fucked Up’s Pink Eyes/Damian Abraham manned a library speaker podium for a special ‘reading’ of “Year Of The Ox”. But the whole evening was memorable. It was a fantastic experience, and I want to see more music in the library. I’m all for Toronto Public Library’s Make Some Noise programme, and MV will be supporting it any way we can.
© Brian Banks, Editor, Music Vice
Pictures of Fucked Up and One Hundred Dollars: