Live: F***ed Up @ Prince Bandroom – 26/2/13

Soundwave attracts a motley crew both onstage and offstage, with the music acts varying as much as the walks of life that grace the mosh. Tonight, while baroque and carnival-esque act The Dear Hunter croon and pseudo-Muse aggressive guitar act O’Brother kill on stage (it should be said that Michael Martens is a solid frontman), there are plenty of gauges stretching the lobes of gig-goers going around, the punk equivalent of hipster’s MBV-listening earplugs. And in an inside environment with the roof acting like a closed lid on tonight’s affairs, the situation at the gig becomes a clash of ideals, one of good music marketed to youngsters who wear rebellion on their rolled-up sleeves.As 10.45pm rolls across iPhone screens, the lights go down for F***ed Up to descend on the stage, with its four guitarists strapping up and the drummer sitting down behind the kit, jamming into “Let Her Rest”. It’s tight, it’s sharp, but the real show hasn’t started with frontman Damian “Pink Eyes” Abraham flanking the wings, bobbing up and down. He’s like Shrek in real life—his reputation precedes him (in this case based on terrifyingly DIY punk photos), his build is brutish but pudgy, yet underneath it all, he’s just a nice bloke, a quality that becomes most telling as the show rolls on. The first guitar licks of “Queen of Hearts” gets Pink Eyes strangling the microphone, approaching the front of the stage where twenty sweaty adults converge like punks to the slaughter. With the first stage dive nary a few minutes in, he growls a line, holds the mic out for punters to growl back the next one until the song eventually wraps up.Stripping his shirt off at the third song despite his retelling of childhood peers calling him names of “fat” and “ugly”, it becomes apparent Pink Eyes fosters a healthy relationship with his F***ed Up loyalists, one that borders on evangelical positivity. Later on in the third song too this affection is most on show when a stage invader is hoisted and carried on the shoulders of the ‘singer’, spun around as if in a wrestling move in a friendly spar. Almost affectionately, he cradles him back into the raging mosh pit to crowd surf before jumping in and invading our space for a bit. Again, punters flock and cover him like a playful hug. Even when not performing the songs, that feeling of camaraderie is palpable, Pink Eyes feeling most at home recounting Soundwave stories as if in intimate company: chatting punk shop with Duff McKagan then freezing up for WWE wrestling superstar Chris Jericho, and cutely a revealing story about how his refusal of laser surgery to remove excess skin around his nipple was born of his three year old.And while the antics of Pink Eyes continue to ensue and the audience lap the show up (most particularly an older man wearing a T-shirt emblazoned with ‘Sadistic Magician’), the rest of the band doesn’t come off as a backing band of any sort, swinging majestically in and out of tracks from heavy gem crusher Hidden World to Polaris Prize-winning The Chemistry of Common Life and back to most recent LP David Comes To Life. In fact, from the bravado of guitarist Ben “Young Governor” Cook (slightly diminished by his providing what I thought to be female back-up vocals), the duelling sonic atmosphere created by other guitarists Josh “Concentration Camp” Zucker and Mike “10,000 Marbles” Haliechuk, to the femme fatale nature of Sandy “Mustard Gas” Miranda, the band is tight. Even drummer Jonah “Guinea Beat” Falco holds his keep, pounding away to the intro of “Son The Father” before the guttural scream of Pink Eyes creates some sort of launching pad to send a stage diver torpedoing into the crowd, almost too horizontally and taking down a formidable proportion of punters. It’s easily the song of the night, packing mini explosions of guitar fortuity and destructive drumming into a very full six minutes.Ending the official part of the set with a thumping rendition of “The Other Shoe” which sees Pink Eyes hand the mic over to a lady in the front to sing “We’re dying on the inside / dying on the inside” ad infinitum, Pink Eyes and Mustard Gas occupy the stage pre-encore with crowd-baiting banter as the rest of the band slides off. The next minute the whole band is back on stage letting rip on their sole song in the encore “Two Snakes”, the intensity once again harnessed by the band as watchers-on witness in wild awe another couple of minutes of a band performing so well. And much like a good hardcore album that lives and breathes the ethos of being ‘punk as f**k’, it’s over too soon, almost too awkwardly kaput even while the energy is still riding high. Still reared and ready to go, Pink Eyes jumps into the crowd amiably after the club lights turn on and makes good to his fans on his word that Melbourne is one of his favourite places to play—perhaps for the sub-cultural folk and counter-cultures that rally around the flag at each of their shows, who would usually be found to be out-of-place in the eyes of society.by David Claridad

March 1st 2013
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