Few people expect a hardcore punk band to display the conceptual ambition of Fucked Up, with expansive twenty minute song cycles, and string arrangements from Owen Pallett as much a part of their DNA as bludgeoning guitars and drums.
Tonight though, in the dingy, dank, dark confines of Hackney’s Hangar, the Toronto outfit prioritise sheer viscerality over intricate artistry, as they usually do in the live setting. Layers and layers of buzzing guitars wash across Damien Abraham’s gruff, barking vocals, in a soaring swirl of noise. Beer flies, and limbs flail, crowdsurfers grasping for the lighting rig.
Still, it’s surprising how much space they manage to leave in the mix for their individual parts to interact. With three guitarists, you might expect sludge. Instead, we get towering walls of blissful psych, with classy guitar runs firing out through the mix, before descending back into the din.
On record, Fucked Up let their conceptual ambitions fly as far as they like, bending the boundaries of hardcore to incorporate everything from ambience to opera. Live, they go more for the jugular, putting on a paint stripping punk show. The result is a band which stands the test of time through their discography, while leaving audiences exhilarated every evening. Tonight is no exception.