Wavves / FIDLAR The Horseshoe Tavern, Toronto ON, April 5

Wavves / FIDLAR The Horseshoe Tavern, Toronto ON, April 5
Photo: Lauren Barless
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For a bunch of "stoner slackers," or whatever simplistic term lazy writers are throwing at them these days, FIDLAR are really damn good performers. Brothers Elvis and Max Kuehn, whose father Greg is a member of Long Beach punk vets T.S.O.L., are veritable virtuosos: the former, wearing a leather jacket even in the Horseshoe's intense heat, was a true guitar shredder, quietly standing to the side of singer Zac Carper's punk frontman antics (though both of them swap singing duties) and holding down the more complex guitar lines of their finely-crafted rock and roll; Max, on drums (the one who "Can't Surf"), is the band's meanwhile bandleader, counting off with his drumsticks a few times before every song as he tried, often in vain, to grab his cohort's attention and turn them from fun-loving, lovable young goofs back into the rock and roll pros the band turned out to be.

FIDLAR are incredibly tight, and sped-up highlights like opener "Cheap Beer," "No Waves" and "Stoked and Broke" proved the band's ability to play their parts (even Brandon Schwartzel's finicky basslines) perfectly at high velocity, even when they're playing covers (the Descendents' "Suburban Home," for one). To a boozy, just-barely-19 crowd, the band's frenzied performance was exactly what the doctor ordered; the first crowd-surfer was up by the second song, and fans were so tightly-packed that if one fell, a domino effect toppled at least five others. It ended with Carper inviting the entire crowd onstage for closer "Wake Bake Skate," which lasted maybe one verse before every instrument was unplugged, but it was still a nice way to end their set, and FIDLAR had nothing left to prove.

Wavves can be hit-or-miss performers (largely dependent on Nathan Williams' sobriety), but his set at the Horseshoe was entirely on-point. He largely eschewed stage banter in favour of a set that started big and never lost steam. The crowd, already drenched in sweat from FIDLAR, began to churn once again as Williams, Stephen Pope and co. launched into the beefed-up set-opener "Idiot," from 2010's King of the Beach, and continued with songs from across his catalog, which, performed live, evinces depth and quality. Songs like "Bug," "Demon to Lean On," "Super Soaker" and "No Hope Kids," all played in the same set, sounded like the greatest hits album of a songwriter more celebrated, and with many more years behind them, than Williams.

He's got a genuine knack for songwriting, and the fact that songs from his brand new album, Afraid of Heights — including "Sail to the Sun," Beat Me Up, and the excellent title track — fared just as well as his older tracks suggested he's hardly losing grip, despite the nasty things the press often has to say about him.

While they weren't quite as tight as FIDLAR, Wavves put on a fantastic set that had fans chanting for an encore long after the house lights had gone up and the techs were coiling up patch cords. Not bad for a bunch of "slackers" and "fuck-ups," right?