If someone was to bring up in conversation "Who was that band that fought the law…?" Most people would think of either The Clash or Sonny Curtis and his band The Crickets. Canadian hardcore band Fucked Up can also claim to have done this.
In 2007, Rolling Stone printed an issue with a four-page fold-out section called "Indie Rock Universe," listing 186 indie bands and interspersing the music chatter with ads for Camel cigarettes. Fucked Up alongside Xiu Xiu, filed a class action lawsuit against the parent companies of Camel and Rolling Stone on behalf of all the bands listed. Initially, a court ruled that the cartoon format violated rules against targeting tobacco ads at minors. However, in 2010, Fucked Up lost when California's 1st District Court of Appeal dismissed the suit against Rolling Stone. Nonetheless, this did not stop Rolling Stone from ranking Fucked Up frontman Damian “Pink Eyes” Abraham 41 in the magazine 50 Top Tweeters in Music in 2014.
Whilst a Canadian band, it was British influences that earned the band acclaim when their third 2011 studio album, David Comes to Life “A self-professed "rock opera" set in Thatcherite Britain…” entered the US Billboard 200. Despite the impact of this LP, Fucked Up played just two songs from David Comes to Life. The two songs were performed with hunger and neither band nor crowd energy faltered when bassist Sandy Miranda’s microphone briefly failed.
Fucked Up proved throughout the set, as well as being hard-core with their music, they were also hard-core with their lyrics by passionately championing issues important to them. Before playing “Lords of Kensington” Damian expressed his disappointment that cannabis had not been legalised in the UK whilst expressing his disappointment in the failure of legalisation in Canada summarised in the following lyric “the arrests won't stop and the prices don't drop”. On a more light-hearted note, Damian recalled a tweet he sent out before a gig in Glasgow asking where he could get some “real cheese” from if you know what I mean”. A fan later brought him a block of Tesco Finest Vintage Cheddar.
An encore followed the melancholy, yet positive “Joy Stops Time” where Damian sang how “Love will make you feel alive. Remember what you have inside. Never sink, and never hide…” When the band returned to the stage the already fearless and passionate people moshing were further galvanized when Damian made the following statement: “Nazi bullshit has no place in punk”. The Fucked Up frontman then voiced his concerns about the recently introduced UK Illegal Migration Bill and discrimination facing the Trans community. This rising energy built up was adroitly set loose when the band played “Police”, a song over two decades old which began with encouraging marching band drumming.
Throughout the 16-song set Fucked Up’s hard-core energy did not wane. Furthermore, the Canadians showed how they could encompass other musical influences into their set by using songs from Les Misérables before the band played as backing tracks, Turbo metal influences delivered by bands like Russkaja and pop-punk melodies and rhythm. Nonetheless, the most unusual and unexpected were the shoegaze indie guitar influences on the playout “Dose Your Dreams”. From having so far during the set detected influences from bands including Hot Water Music and Propagandhi, one now detected The Stone Roses, The Charlatans and Cast. The moshing may have calmed, but there was not a single boo, or drink thrown in aghast, and most importantly, once the extended playout concluded there was a communal sense that positive vibes had reached their zenith.
The other sacrosanct and positive element to this final leg of Fucked Up’s UK tour was the communal harmony with the main support band The Big Cheese and opening act Clarence. Not only did Fucked Up’s political passion rub off on these new emerging young bands but supporting band members including The Big Cheese’s guitarist Maegan Brooks played as additional members with Fucked Up consistently throughout their set. These collaborations not only severed all egos, but they also served to create a festival atmosphere and add intense energy.
Fucked Up Setlist at Lafayette, London, England
I Think I Might Be Weird
Queen of Hearts
Huge New Her
Broken Little Boys
Lords of Kensington
I Don’t Wanna Live in This World Anymore
Joy Stops Time
Turn the Season
Dose Your Dreams