The kids are all right.
San Diego can be notorious for shitty crowds, with bands often not even coming out for encores because no one cheers. Friday night was not one of those shows.
FIDLAR, SWMRS and The Frights played the Observatory in North Park and the all-ages crowd went wild. The mass of underage kids with x’s on their hands, ranging from freshman to freshly 21, turned the venue’s pit into a swaying mosh of bodies, pumped up with hormones and ready to lose their minds.
A few parents chaperoned the unlucky teenagers, with looks ranging from horror to delighted. They mostly stood back behind the safety bars while the sweaty mob fist pumped, head banged and found any reason to touch each other.
The Frights and SMWRS, relatively young dudes themselves, got the crowd riled up and covered in body fluids, raging to their sweet punk songs of being young, confused, pissed off and finding ways to cope – mainly through sex, love and drugs.
I unfortunately missed The Frights set due to an all ages early start time. But a nice girl in the crowd texted me 5 videos of their performance and I can confirm they killed it with their local blend of doo-wop surf punk.
Oakland natives SMWRS own brand of whiny rawness pumped up the hostility, ended their set with the new anti-LA anthem “Drive North”, which ironically for San Diego just gets us straight up to Los Angeles.
Like most rock shows nowadays, people were dressed all over the place with both nonchalance and over eagerness. Outfits emulated trends of past decades they weren’t around for but saw on the Internet, with 90’s style velvet, chokers, crop tops for all genders and tattoos of boobs and bananas being the most popular. Lots wore costumes of various food items and face paints – shout out to the human taco.
Finally FIDLAR took stage and kicked things off with an epic cover of Beastie Boy’s “Sabotage”. They ran through a slew of fast, heavy and short tracks from last year’s Too and 2013 self-titled album with favorites like “Cheap Beer”, “No Waves”, “40oz. On Repeat” and “West Coast”. Lead singer Zac Carper lays out his love and death relationship with substances in FIDALR’s lyrics, making them sound glamorous to high school students and horrible to those who have been around the block a few times.
Either way, their punk rock, no fucks given spirit is infectious and full of pure combustible energy. During “Cocaine” they notoriously have the crowd crouch down for the build up and drop, sending everyone into a riotous mosh. It’s glorious.
A note for old people that pretentiously claim, “rock is dead”. Head to a FIDLAR show and find out, it’s alive and well. The kids are all right.