If you’ve ever watched a nature documentary – which you’ve probably done if your grandparents’ house is anywhere near as boring as my grandparents’ house is – then chances are you’ll have seen footage of penguins queuing up on icebergs, taking it in turns to jump into the freezing cold water. Although gay nightclub and London music venue, Heaven, is the opposite of the freezing Antarctic, with sweat dripping down peoples’ faces before the gig has even begun, once the show gets underway there’s an unmistakable parallel to these Antarctic critters’ behaviour.
The narrow nature of the venue means gig-goers are frantically pushing and shoving in an effort to get closer to Fidlar, who take to the stage having come to the UK from LA. It’s a rare thing indeed to get to see the punk quartet play live in the UK – especially if you can’t afford a Reading/Leeds festival ticket – and even rarer an opportunity to actually get up close to the band. Unsurprisingly, then, queuing up both sides of the stage are people of all shapes, sizes and ages, clamouring for a chance to crowd-surf. Afterall, nothing beats that euphoric moment of diving into a crowd, trustingly counting on them to catch you.
There’s something about gigs that sees people revert to a very primal level of existence. Much like the penguins, diving for fish in the freezing Antarctic, those in attendance at gigs such as this one are fighting for their survival in a vicious climate. Bruised limbs, trampled feet and hair torn from your scalp are all things you can expect when you hand over your bank details to the ticket companies. We willingly subject ourselves to hours of violence, only to spill from the venue once the gig is over, proclaiming it the Best. Night. Ever.
And, Fidlar’s set certainly merits such an award, with the unrelenting and fast-paced nature of their discography making the night feel over before it had even begun. Opening with ‘Stoked and Broke’ – which invites a comparison to Mario Cuomo’s vocal in fellow Stateside band, The Orwells – the crowd are soon whipped into a frenzy, shouting “I just wanna get really high / smoke weed until I die” back at frontman Zac Carper. Set highlights include ‘No Waves’ (inspired by Carper’s stint in rehab) and the new single, ‘40 oz. On Repeat’, from the band’s forthcoming sophomore album, Too, scheduled for release on 4th September. The new track has a surprisingly saccharine and twee chorus “Because everybody’s got somebody, everybody but me / Why can’t anybody just tell me that I’m somebody’s?” yet feels steeped in cynicism – especially when played live by this band who, to put it simply, don’t give a fuck.
Whilst Fidlar’s self-titled debut released back in 2013 makes for explosive listening from start to finish, the lyrical breadth is admittedly somewhat restricted – if you didn’t know the words to any of their songs you could just shout ‘fuck’ ‘beer’ ‘high’ ‘weed’ ‘cocaine’ ‘die’ and you’d be in with a solid chance of getting the words right. Whilst such an expletive riddled and narcotic focused lyrical might seem somewhat off-putting to the more sensible and law abiding citizens amongst you, it’s actually incredibly liberating to shout about such things.
The setlist was carefully formulated so there were occasional lulls where the shorter people in attendance (myself included) could try and draw a few breaths before further chaos ensued, with a final burst of insanity as the gig drew to a close. Everyone in attendance followed Zac’s command and bobbed down – the same way Slipknot fans are ordered to do during ‘Spit It Out’ – before jumping up to go well and truly apeshit during the closing song, ‘Cocaine’. Of course, no gig is finished before the encore and Fidlar came back on to raucous applause and cheering for ‘Wake Bake Skate’ – where all the penguins seemed to think “fuck it dog, life’s a risk”, before plunging into the churning crowd for one last time.
Words by Beth Kirkbride