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Fucked Up / Title Fight / Hop Along

Fucked Up / Title Fight / Hop Along: live in Brooklynlive in Brooklyn (2013)
live show

Reviewer Rating: 4


Contributed by: BryneBryne
(others by this writer | submit your own)

Punknews.org contributing editors Bryne Yancey and John Gentile took I-95 from Philadelphia up to Brooklyn on June 27, 2013 to watch Fucked Up, Title Fight and Hop Along perform at House of Vans. What follows is an email exchange about the events of the show. John Gentile: Finally, The Yance and .


Punknews.org contributing editors Bryne Yancey and John Gentile took I-95 from Philadelphia up to Brooklyn on June 27, 2013 to watch Fucked Up, Title Fight and Hop Along perform at House of Vans. What follows is an email exchange about the events of the show.

John Gentile: Finally, The Yance and I felt as though we had arrived at our station. After walking into the House of Vans, a combination skate park / convert venue / party-get-down place, we felt hip, we felt happenin', we felt like one of the club, we felt like cocks-of-the-walk. Stylish youths packed the place: beards over here, mom-jeans over there. Anti-fashion is fashion once again, and I'll admit, it has a certain flair. I would not have predicted the Sigmund Freud and Jane Goodall looks to make a comeback in 2013, but the kids made it work.

If art must be driven by commerce these days, then I'll admit, Vans is doing it right. While most concerts are basically just people standing around checking their iPhones, the Fucked Up/Title Fight/Hop Along show really did have a party vibe. Free beer was being dispensed put back and a tasty taco truck was flinging out chorizo faster than you could say three fifty, please. But above all, it seemed that people were there to kick back, get excited, have a good time, and most importantly, dig some cool bands.



Bryne Yancey: I would wear "FUCK JADEDNESS, DOWN WITH CYNICISM" on a t-shirt if I could, but even I have to admit I was a little skeptical of what the House of Vans setting would be like, John. I'm glad I was wrong. I agree; the whole setup at HOV was laid-back and decidedly party-centric. I imagine plenty of other "corporate events" probably feel very cold and unfun, but that wasn't the case here. Everyone was having a great time, including the bands–even if the free beer being doled out was (gulp) Heineken Light. Then again, ain't no punk worth his or her weight in back patches and denim vests that'll turn down a free beer, regardless of the yellow swill factor.

But, on to the bands: This was an eclectic lineup, starting with the blasted out indie rock of Hop Along. In my Fest review last year I said that they could be the biggest band in the world, and I still think that's true; I've still never heard a vocalist on Frances Quinlan's level, or even close–as great as she is recorded, she's even better live–and she and the rest of the band shined. "Laments," "Young and Happy!" and closer "Tibetan Pop Stars" were clear highlights. There were only a few people in the crowd who seemed familiar with the songs, but the overall reception to them was extremely enthusiastic, to the point where the band seemed legitimately floored at how much clapping and cheering was happening. It was really great to witness, and I have a feeling Hop Along will be garnering more reactions like that going forward.



John: I agree that Hop Along was very well received. They actually got quite a bit of applause from people who were clearly unfamiliar with them when their set started. However, I found Title Fight to be the most perplexing. I had them described to me previously as "hardcore." Perhaps I've lost touch with that term, but I don't feel as those that definition fits the band. As they played live, the stuck to a mid-tempo crunch and airy, but cold guitars. As with so many bands, Title Fight seem to operate more on texture than riffs giving their music a sort of Joy Division reference, without overtly aping that band. The vocals were basically uniformly cries of desperation, which can work well, but I think the band could use a bit more vocal variety to widen their sound. I suppose the reason as though the "hardcore" description threw me off was because this music seemed very introspective and not very conducive to energetic movement. There were some people getting down to their lower register stomping, but I think was only because in general, the music is steady and only, once in a wild, became unstable or threatening.



Bryne: Describing Title Fight as perplexing in a live setting has proven to be awfully apt. I know you're unfamiliar with them, John, but their records are actually really great–I still prefer 2011's Shed over last year's Floral Green, for what it's worth–their sound, which I've always interpreted as–somewhat like you said–yelped desperation over dissonant, often muddled instrumentation, just has never translated well in a live setting. Ned Russin still can't seem to figure out how to stay in front of his microphone while singing and while his onstage enthusiasm is appreciated, it'd be nice to be able to hear his vocals for more than half a song.

Going in to this show I actually thought that Title Fight would end up being a bigger draw than Fucked Up, and it seemed to be true: There were plenty of hardcore kids in the crowd, who've stayed with TF even as their sound has wholly shifted away from hardcore, and they were enthusiastically moshing, stage diving and crowd surfing throughout the set. But once they stopped playing, there was clearly a large exodus from the show, leaving a few hundred people left for the closing set from Fucked Up. You've seen them live a few times before; this was my first time. How did this set stack up to the others?



John: Fucked Up has existed in many-a forms. Once they used to be hardcore smashers. Then they were hardcore, with a thick, heavy indie texture. Then, with the release of David Comes To Life, their sound became giant waves of volume that existed more in pulses than riffs. I was pleasantly surprised to see that at the Vans show, the band have regained some of their sharpness. While they still have that huge, soaring "Fucked Up Sound," the songs seem to have become more angular again, and frankly, more rocking.

"I Hate Summer" stormed along with energy, but unlike their peers, Fucked Up were also able to hold onto that big indie rock sound, which made the songs sound titanic. Likewise, classic "Police" was still savage, but it did more than just kick out a mosh-inducing riff. Perhaps this is due in part to the new songs. The David songs seemed to rely on dynamics and flows as much as actual notes, but the new songs seem to be anchored back in classic rock riffage. The effect is that vocalist Damian Abraham seems just a bit more juiced up then before and seems entirely in the driver's seat on the newest songs, where previously, at times, he seemed to just be placed atop a mountain of music. That effect was interesting too, as it relied on the contrast of Damian's bark to the music's smoothness, but finally, he seems to be intertwined with the music instead of climbing on top of it.



Bryne: I agree to a certain extent; as a first-timer to Fucked Up's live act, I was impressed – if unsurprised – at how strong they sounded throughout. I thought the three-guitar assault sometimes created an almost impenetrable din; whether that was a product of the band's setup, the venue's setup or both I'm not sure, but a lot of the nuance found in Fucked Up's studio recordings fell by the wayside in a live setting, which I suppose is par for the course when it comes to most punk shows. Abraham's madman antics more than made up for any drowned out notes, however. The way he ran around the pit, hovered over the barricade and handed off the mic to enthusiastic crowd surfers made the show infinitely more interesting and unpredictable.

The new songs the band played sounded very tight and much more melodic than most of what we've heard from Fucked Up in the past. "Classic rock riffage" seems apt. It'll be interesting to see how these songs evolve, if at all, as time goes on. Regardless, Fucked Up were the *perfect* first headliner for the House of Vans series this summer. I'm looking forward to a couple of the upcoming shows there, mainly Kid Dynamite. And MELVINS.

 

 
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Fine Print: The following comments are owned by whoever posted them. We are not respon sible for them in any way. Seriously.
livecuts (July 13, 2013)

Actually, we don't disagree on everything.
I think music press is a hell of a lot worse than anything else. How much sense does it make to give them free content when you can do it yourself? However, this is not what a sponsor or a major label will do in 2013. That's entirely different.

livecuts (July 13, 2013)

Wow Wolfparty, you're blowing my mind.
My opinion is the exact opposite to yours. I only think sponsorship makes sense now, whereas it _never_ has before. Ever.

Are you active in music? Are you in a band? You don't seem to understand the fundamentals and I'm guessing you're very selective in your thinking.

brangelina (July 12, 2013)

taco bell is a wonderful company. and "happier hour" from 2-5pm every day?? $1 grillers, freezes, sparklers and medium drinks? get out of here with those prices!!!

slowstupidhungry (July 11, 2013)

Bryne, you're right, this site isn't MRR or Razorcake; It's a scam wherein you invest your time and effort so that some Canadian douchebag makes ad revenue. Your thoughts on the corporatization of punk gigs are as cynical, bland and uncritical as the consumerist cesspool that spawned you.

wolfparty (July 11, 2013)

re warped tour: mostly has to do with the comment that ??vans is doing it right.? vans is doing this house of vans thing because it wants to solidify its place among ??older, serious music fans.? warped tour is a joke to punknews readership. fucked up headlining their brooklyn club, however...

im going to continue using taco bell??s feed the beat campaign as an example. taco bell feed the beat (fucking say that out loud and just try to take it as seriously as you do the music of i.e. restorations, you blew it etc.) dangles a pretty cool carrot to a huge pool of artists. ??hey guys, apply for feed the beat. 500 dollars in food at our restaurants, access to our huge network of taco bell fans, follow in the footsteps of fun. and best coast.? taco bell isn??t expecting restorations or candy hearts to write a song for them (just as obviously fucked up is not going to write a song about vans.) its much more dangerous than that. now they get to use these bands names and image as leverage. taco bell wants brand loyalty from touring punk bands and their fans. ??eat our shit on tour, tell the kids at the shows about all the awesome free taco bell youve been eating on the road and how taco bell is not so bad.? dude call me naive but i expect a little more from artists that i respect than to debase themselves for literal dog food.

i didnt want to get into the ethics of these companies because i thought that breaking down what vans and taco bell and hundreds of other brands are actually doing* would be enough to illustrate how harmful it is. these are not good companies. this is not your local taco shop or skate shop. its TACO BELL and VANS. they pay shit wages and provide products of questionable quality.

moving past all that, beyond the ethics of these companies and how their brands are infiltrating art that i actually use to define my life: its not sustainable. lifestyle branding is shitty. its so shitty that most people dont fall for it. im sure in your head you??re like ??even if vans is selling this cool concert show on behalf of their brand, im not falling for it.? that is true. and the brands are going to realize that in time, and theyre no longer going to do house of vans, or feed the beat, or scion av or mountain dew records or that converse shit. theyre going to ditch bands like they ditched print magazines and television and we??re still going to be asking ??man how are bands supposed to make money these days?? teaming up with brands is not sustainable, it doesnt help artists, or brands and its not an answer to the question of how to make money in music.

i??m in agreement with you on one thing, for sure: ??fans? treat musicians shitty. so does press. so do brands. its all getting in the way of why people listen to music in the first place, why we go to shows, why we buy records: music is life affirming art. maybe stop treating art like a product, which kids have always been interested in how to score for free, and instead remind them that they are making music that they are going to use to ascribe greater meaning to their lives.

musicians are:
to corporations: potential and very cheap avenues with which they can legitimize their product
to press: content
to listeners: thats up for debate at this point

*not putting on cool shows for you, not even helping provide a money making framework for artists you love, just using those things to sell sneakers

johngentile (July 11, 2013)

Wolfparty- I'm just sad that you missed out on commentary in the piece of the ridiculousness of me and The Yance acting like we are cool simply because we went to a venue when really, we stuck out like the nerdy, dorky, sore thumbs that we are.

bryne (July 11, 2013)

Hey wolfparty: Thanks for the response.

Vans sponsoring this and also sponsoring the Warped Tour, what does that have to do with anything? They're for two completely different demographics of people. I'm personally not a fan of most Warped bands, but I'm also not in that demographic or even close to it. I wouldn't call it rad *or* a punchline, I'd just call it "not for me."

As for corporations "coercing" bands into relationships, that's an awfully strong word. While I'm sure that's happened before, it seems to me that most of these bands enter these relationships of their own free will, and honestly, if they get something cool out of it and get to continue making their art in the face of illegal downloading, poor turnouts on tours, general bad luck etc. it's fine. As for bands being ripped off, they're being ripped off by their own "fans" just as much, if not more, through pirating, people not going to shows because the tickets are more than $5, etc. The vast majority of music fans reek of self-entitlement, lack empathy, and don't feel they owe musicians a living, and so we get sponsored events like House of Vans and stuff. And even with that said, I can assure you most bands don't "court relationships" with brands. It's generally the other way around. And usually the reason these bands are courted or whatever is because of their independence, artistic freedom and all of that. You think Fucked Up is gonna go write a song about Vans now or something? Come on.

As for your five-point plan for musical stardom, hey, it's valiant but this is the real world and shit happens. But even with that said, it doesn't mean bands can't do that *and* occasionally take part in some of these sponsored things in order to keep their lights on, or I dunno, feed their families.

Like I said, your points are somewhat valid but you're also drawing a bunch of conclusions and making a bunch of correlations that don't actually exist.

wolfparty (July 11, 2013)

i cant put my finger on exactly why i do, but i think "thats just the way things are now" with regard to bands partnering with corporations is the biggest cop out. i mean vans also sponsors the warped tour. is the warped tour rad or is it a punchline to you? corporations coercing bands into relationships is sketchy. i havent seen tons of hard numbers but bands are being ripped off and i think suffering in the long run for this. trying to court a relationship with brands rather than fans? this is the internet. there are plenty of ways to achieve and then leverage your popularity without getting in bed with, like, fucking taco bell feed the beat, for a few hundred dollars at BEST? dude, you're an artist. write an EP of solid songs, shoot a video for each one, start a youtube channel, sell it on bandcamp. i understand these too are corporate entities but they allow for much more artistic freedom and credibility and INDEPENDENCE than the fucking vans warped tour, or the doritos tent at sxsw. im going to reiterate: you dont need to be in bed with brands to succeed anymore, dude. this is not the 1980s. you can do comparable numbers on your own if you are making good stuff. the pay outs are just not worth it.

and youre right, you arent MRR or razorcake. i dont read those publications because they dont write about bands i like. you guys, PoZ, alter the press, you all cover artists that are more my speed and that i actually give a fuck about. the thing that i hate, though, is that ultimately i feel like you do these bands a disservice. probably going to save that comment for an email to you at some point, though.

and finally, i didnt think you were trying to hide anything. and i understand you guys drove there on your own volition. the traveloguey aspects of your reviews are what gets me to read them in the first place. thanks for your response, hopefully talk to you soon. peace.

bryne (July 11, 2013)

Hey wolfparty: Thanks for reading.

We had a lot of fun at this show. It wasn't noted in the review because I didn't feel it was necessary, but there was very little actual advertising at the show, and what was there was not what I would consider overt in any way. I can assure you, if we had been bombarded with ads at this thing I would've said something about it.

John and I weren't paid or compensated in any way to go to this show and review it. You didn't say it but I feel like there's some sort of notion that we're distorting what it was like there due to some shady conflict. That's not the case. We drove to NY from Philly, in one of our cars, and used our own gas money and toll money to get there and back. (Those tolls, yikes!) We're not in Vans' pocket like you seem to think we are, nor are they in ours.

I live in the real world, where brands have been co-opting subculture since, well, subcultures became a thing. It's just far more prevalent now because bands are having to partner with companies to make a living. No one buys records anymore, so in order to keep food on the table, they do stuff like House of Vans shows or records with Scion or whatever. It's not a perfect world, and while your points are valid if a little romantically naive, this is just how things are now, and it's gotten so far gone that it'll probably always be like this. We're not MRR or Razorcake. We *never* were. What site do you think you're reading?

wallofyouth (July 11, 2013)

waiting for the other suede chukka low to drop

johngentile (July 11, 2013)

At inagreendase- there was a barricade, but I guess people snuck around the back, which was really easy to do, or maybe just climbed the barricade, which was possible with the right dedication.

wolfparty (July 11, 2013)

yeah this is bullshit. be more critical of what house of vans is. they didnt put on this show because they like you and they like these bands and they want you to be happy. the put on this show to sell sneakers to you and to sell YOU. punk kids living a punk lifestyle and going to punk shows. "house of vans is doing it right" is such a fucking cop out. there is no right way to do corporate co option of subculture. BUT I GUESS THIS IS PAR FOR THE COURSE FOR A SPINMEDIA PROPERTY "WE UNDERSTAND THE COMPLEX RELATIONSHIP BETWEEN BRANDS AND MILLENIAL CONSUMERS."

inagreendase (July 11, 2013)

"they were enthusiastically moshing, stage diving and crowd surfing throughout the set."

No barricade?

mikexdude (July 10, 2013)

Define talent. Hop Along is infinitely more talented from any way you look at it.

EchosMyron (July 10, 2013)

Fucked Up is far too talented to be on tour with these idiots.

teaessare (July 9, 2013)

Hop Along blew me away. I can't stop listening to Get Disowned now.

GuiltyofBeingMike (July 9, 2013)

Title Fight has arguably the most patronizing and insufferable fan base.

lmchc (July 9, 2013)

another classic in the "bryce and john gentile: bromancing the scene" series

Blackjaw_ (July 9, 2013)

I would kill to see Hop Along live. Still my favourite record of the last few years.

As for Title Fight, I didn't get too into them until Floral Green came out (I did always like them, but never loved them). Saw them a few months after that for the first time, and I thought they were awesome live. Way better than I expected. I thought they'd be sloppy and the vocals wouldn't translate, but it was the opposite.

Babrook (July 9, 2013)

not punk

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