Fucked Up Made Toronto Come to Life

The Great Hall, July 7

With Nyssa, shn shn, Zoon

Photo: Stephen McGill

BY Paul DikaPublished Jul 8, 2022

Fucked Up's 10-year anniversary shows for David Comes to Life, their 18-song marathon of a hardcore opera, were originally planned for earlier this year in February. Unfortunately, they had to be postponed due to another severe COVID wave — and as lead vocalist Damien Abraham growls in the first act's "Turn the Season," "Things go up, and then they go down."

Despite the hiccup, the band rescheduled for the summer. After a long wait, fans' patience paid off as they gathered in the Great Hall to experience what is arguably the band's most ambitious album from front to back. 

In addition to serving as anniversary shows for one of their most critically acclaimed albums, the event more importantly functioned as a benefit, with all the proceeds from ticket sales going to the Indian Residential School Survivors Society. As they've done with countless shows and their Long Winter series, the band built a bill featuring several local artists of varying genres and representations: shoegazer Zoon, electronic singer-songwriter shn shn, and pop artist NYSSA (pictured below, who filled in for Pantayo at the last minute) provided an eclectic lineup of diverse artists that audiences seldom see at hardcore shows.

Shortly after 10 p.m., the majority of Fucked Up made their way to the stage, playing an instrumental intro as Abraham made his way out for "Queen of Hearts". Fucked Up have always been known for delivering a highly energetic live set, and as soon as Jonah Falco's pummelling drums came in on their first song, it was clear the crowd was in for another one of those performances.

Abraham loves to surprise and delight audiences in silly and endearing ways, and this night was no exception. Before "Queen of Hearts" was over, the charismatic singer decided to belt the outro with his mouth wrapped completely around the microphone, before spitting it out for the instrumental finish. 

He kept up his tomfoolery, as he started to crush up used water bottles that had made their way to the stage and stick them to his forehead, collecting three or four at one point. Once he got a chance to explain, Abraham bragged about holding the world record, claiming he once stuck 11 to his head, despite no acknowledgement from Guinness. Abraham even decided to climb guitarist Mike Haliechuk's stack of amps to reach the balcony, and he sung a couple songs alongside fans, including two of his sons.

In between the antics, Fucked Up barrelled through the nearly 80-minute album like a bowling bowl, rarely slowing down for breaks. Falco and bassist Sandy Miranda provided the heartbeat of the set, while guitarists Haliechuk and Josh Zucker flexed their playing skills, nailing the complex leads and riffs that dominate David Comes to Life. Without guitarist Ben Cook, Robin Hatch lended her vocal and keyboard talents, providing exceptional harmonies and leads while keeping up with the band's frenetic pace. 

Standouts from the album, like "The Other Shoe," "A Little Death" and "Ship of Fools," elicited some of the most energetic moments from the crowd, as fans danced like they were making up for lost time. While most songs were delivered as they sound on the album, Falco, having switched to guitar, and Hatch gave the rest of the group a break while they dueted together on "Truth I Know" and "Life in Paper," adding a refreshing dynamic to the performance and breathing new life into the decade-old songs. 

Towards the end of the set, Abraham paused and expressed his gratitude, recognizing that these shows had been in question for some time. In that same breath, he dedicated "The Recursive Girl" to any of those who have lost loved ones over the last two years, acknowledging Riley Gale of Power Trip and Dallas Good of the Sadies specifically, which drew a supportive response from the crowd.  

As the band left the stage once the album had finished, a couple minutes of applause were enough to bring them back out for an encore of early favourite "Police." Abraham prefaced the song by expressing his support for Black Lives Matter, as well as Indigenous and trans communities, capping off the night by stating "Fuck fascism in all it's forms." 

Fucked Up showed, once again, why they're held in such high regard as a live act, while also celebrating the songwriting feats they achieved on David Comes to Life. And though their sound has evolved since, this night was a welcome chance to celebrate the accomplishments of that album as they move on to the next chapter.

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