Gig/Concert: Fucked Up with Kurt Vile, The D’Urbervilles, GIVE
Venue: Opera House, Queen Street East, Toronto, ON, Canada
Date: 26 February 2010
Headliners: Fucked Up
In one word: Vigourous
On a wintry Friday night at the Opera House in Toronto’s east end two of the area’s best local bands took to the stage. Established hardcore hero’s Fucked Up headlined, while The D’Urbervilles affirmed themselves further as one of the most exciting and important new bands to emerge from this city.
First up were GIVE, a hardcore band who introduced themselves as being from Washington, DC – with the drummer Gene Melkisethian proudly showing their roots by wearing a Black Flag shirt. So what does 2010 DC HC sound like? Pretty freaking good! The influences of DC elder statesmen can be easily picked out in their music, but there’s a bit more going on here than just a straight rehash of early 80’s era hardcore.
It took mere seconds for GIVE to make an impact, with a vigourous display sparking interest and curiosity from the crowd, and succeeding in diverting most people’s attention away from the Olympic hockey action showing on the tellies behind the bar. The crunching drive of “Godspeeding” was one of the picks of their set, a song with some nice dirty beats and cool coarse vocals supplied by the floppy-haired singer John Scharbach. This was a tight display by a band who will hopefully return to play Toronto again sometime soon. GIVE recently released their debut 12” EP and it’s a record worth seeking out for the flower power artwork alone.
A sultry bass groove signalled The D’Urbervilles arrival on stage. It was noticeable tonight that there were fans at the front who had come out especially for The D’Urbs and it’s great to see their following continue to grow. It was another good gig by the band who tonight played some new songs, while “Spin The Bottle” and “Dragnet” were two favourites from We Are The Hunters which were well-received. The D’Urbervilles are a band that Toronto can really shout about loudly and be proud to call their own, and we can enjoy getting used to seeing them appear at bigger and bigger gigs. These guys are a bit special.
Backed by a guy on a drum/maraca/tambourine/acoustic, Kurt Vile, his face obscured by hair, played guitar and sung with the assistance of echo and chorus effects to create a swirling lo-fi sound. Vile has a singing style that lands somewhere between Bob Dylan and a stroke victim (don’t ask me what the difference is). After the first song, someone had heckled “You suck!”, to which Vile replied without hesitation, “Your mom!” – this spitfire reaction was as amusing as it was instinctive. My interest waned fast and within 20 minutes the majority of the crowd were talking among themselves. There is a fine line between being mellow and being boring and Kurt Vile crossed it.
The mood and atmosphere was transformed inside the Opera House as Fucked Up came on – predictably enough, things really kicked off, in every sense. The flute opening of “Son the Father” by drummer Jonah Falco’s mother provided the 20 seconds of calm before the ensuing storm of hardcore chaos. Kids let loose in the pit and used the stage as a springboard, including GIVE’s Scharbach who somersaulted off the monitor, as Fucked Up played through The Chemistry of Common Life. Good times were being had by all, aside from an onstage scuffle when someone leapt from the crowd to accost a fellow patron who had been handed the mic, but the attacker was quickly booted out the side door. Otherwise the level of rock show etiquette tonight was at an exemplary level, as demonstrated by the way the audience passed singer Damian Abraham’s mic cord over their heads as he walked through the crowd, going all the way to the back underneath the balcony and stepping up on the bars.
Damian spoke fondly of his pleasure of playing tonight at the Opera House and regaled how as a kid of 15 he saw his first ever show at the venue, and also revealing that he had played here before in a previous band with bassist Sandy Miranda. This moment of open reminiscence served as a pre-cursor to requesting that the audience kindly form a circle pit for “Baiting the Public”, from the band’s 2003 7”. Fucked Up stayed on stage for the token encore moment, playing Sex Pistols’ “Bodies” and finishing up with “Police”.
© Brian Banks, Music Vice
Photos of Fucked Up, The D’Urbervilles, GIVE and Kurt Vile