Great Hall, Toronto ON, May 1

Photo: Shane Parent

BY Anna FitzpatrickPublished May 2, 2015

FIDLAR's show at Toronto's Great Hall last night (May 1) was the first of two they would be playing at Canadian Music Week (they will hit up the Horseshoe Tavern May 2), but it was the only one that was all-ages. After their Great Hall set, it's hard to imagine them ever playing to a crowd of olds; if a California skate punk band plays a song called "Awkward" and no mosh pit of sweaty teens are there to sing along, do they make a noise?
For a good portion of the audience, it seemed to be their first real rock show, a wild night out while their parents were probably off seeing the Jesus and Mary Chain play a reunion tour at another venue. Whatever — discovery is way more fun than nostalgia, anyway. When I walked in, a lacklustre opening band was finishing their set to a small but enthusiastically moshing crowd. I watched one gangly teenage girl with a backpack inch her way to the edge of the flock, shove a guy, and look over her shoulder incredulously at her friend, like, "Can you believe I just got away with that?"
By the time the headliners took the stage, the venue was packed, and security was siphoning people out from the over-capacity floor and toward the balcony. A few choice words were flung at the security guards by ticket holders denied entry, but the hostility in their voices could barely mask their delight that they finally had a machine to rage against.
And FIDLAR? They were the perfect soundtrack for a room of the more-bored-than-disaffected. They opened with "Stoked and Broke," a song that supplemented their slacker origins (the band's name is an acronym for "Fuck It Dog, Life's a Risk"). Guitarist/vocalist Zac Carper was dressed the part in a Hawaiian shirt and board shorts. At one point he told the crowd to stick it to their parents, shouting "Fuck you, Dad!" into the mic. 
Carper has publicly struggled with addiction, turning his struggles into rowdy anthems like "No Waves." Lyrics like "I feel, feel like I'm a grandpa / I feel, feel like I'm already 80 years old/ And my skin's so cold / I need a new body and I need a new soul" belie the songs frantic riffs. Finishing the song, Carper motioned to the balcony. "Why aren't those people inside?" he said to a room full of cheers. "You should let them inside." A few people stuck on the balcony eventually discovered they could leap from the ledge onto the stage, crowd surfing their way onto the floor. One guy skipped the stage altogether and belly-flopped straight from the balcony onto the people below.
Meanwhile, the band rolled with whatever punches the audience threw their way. The crowd grabbed Carper's mic and pulled it into the mosh pit so they could sing along into it, and Carper, unfazed, finished the set playing into bassist's Brandon Schwartzel's mic. Another guy took hold of Carper's guitar and finished the song, hitting all the right chords.
By the penultimate song, "Wait for the Man," the stage was completely rushed, mostly by dancing and singing teenagers having the time of their lives. A girl with braided pigtails took the opportunity to shyly reach out and touch Schwartzel's shoulder before quickly backing away. A guy too old to be getting away with it pulled down his pants and underwear at the edge of the stage, mooning the crowd (security got rid of him quickly).
It was everything an all-ages show could have been, a sweaty reprieve from the daily bullshit of adolescence, all facilitated by FIDLAR's sweaty, brash soundtrack. The only thing that could have made the room more intoxicating was if they played their set on a school night. Fuck you Dad, indeed.

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