FIDLAR at the Observatory North Park

FIDLAR is Zac Carper, Max Kuehn, Elvis Kuehn, and Brandon Schwartzel

FIDLAR brought their loud, SoCal skate punk sound to the Observatory North Park; never-ending moshpits ensued

FIDLAR kicked off the west coast leg of their fall North American tour on October 18th, 2018 here in San Diego at the Observatory North Park. Supporting the Los Angeles punk rock band on this leg were Toronto’s Dilly Dally and Southern California’s The Side Eyes. This would be my first time seeing FIDLAR live, and it absolutely exceeded my expectations.

The Side Eyes had already begun their set when I entered the venue around 8:00. If you consider yourself a punk purist and like the short, hard, and fast songs of the classic punk genre, this is the band for you. Their opening set wasn’t very long, but they managed to get through a surprisingly high number of songs in a short time. The in-your-face attitude of lead singer Astrid McDonald and the band’s energetic stage presence got the mosh pits circling early on in the night.

Dilly Dally was up next, and they offered something different from both The Side Eyes and FIDLAR. The four-piece from Toronto, Ontario (hello, fellow Canadians) have a slower, grungier vibe, and their sway-inducing songs were a pleasant break for us to recharge before the headliner. Their mellower sound didn’t put us to sleep by any means, as mosh pits were still going strong behind me throughout their set.

As Dilly Dally concluded and the stage setup for FIDLAR began to take shape (stacks of old televisions emblazoned with “FIDLAR” in red on their screens, a matching backdrop unveiled at the back of the stage), the crowd began to move in towards the barricade at the front of the stage. Eventually, I ended up dead center and in roughly the second row. I lightheartedly mentioned to my friend that if I had come to the show alone, I definitely wouldn’t be this close, lest I end up sandwiched between tall, sweaty dudes and unable to get out (or see anything). He responded that if that was the case, then I should probably just get out now because he wouldn’t be protecting me. Well, okay. I guess I was on my own. I had flashbacks to my near-death experience at the Frights’ show at the Observatory in August, and braced myself for an even rowdier crowd.

Shortly after, FIDLAR took the stage to an eruption of cheers. They launched right into “Alcohol”, released earlier this year, which sent the crowd into a frenzy. An absolutely perfect opener, with vocalist Zac Carper’s angry, screaming delivery; the unapologetic, “fuck it” attitude of the verses (“And I feel okay and get the fuck out my way/And did you think I wanna hear what you have to say?”), and the eardrum-blasting chorus. I managed to hold my own in the crush of already-sweaty fans, jumping along with them and periodically extracting my ponytail from getting pinched between shoulders. “No Waves,” a track off the band’s self-titled debut record, was met with an even greater energetic response.  I stayed up front for the next two songs before heading back into the actual mosh pit. Being squished in the front is fun for a little while, but I think FIDLAR’s music is best experienced with the ability to jump around and push people.

About halfway through the set, Zac calmed us down for a moment to address something he had been noticing at shows: “sexual harassment, motherfuckers – not cool!”

He proceeded to give the audience permission to punch anyone who was “fucking with [us]” in the face. This was met with loud cheers and nods of approval from everyone in the crowd. Next, Zac proclaimed that there was “too much dick on the dance floor”, and ordered one of the staples of a FIDLAR show: the girls-only mosh pit.

I had been waiting for this. I am a girl, I am a fan of FIDLAR, and I enjoy mosh pits when I don’t feel like someone is going to (accidentally, I think) punch me in the face. This was my time to shine. We girls moved in towards the stage, and the band gave us “Stoked and Broke” for our moment of punk rock girl power. If you ask me, there were still too many dicks in the pit, but what can you do?

New songs from the band’s forthcoming third record, Almost Free, including “Too Real” and “Can’t You See” were well-received by the crowd; everyone already seemed to know the words to “Can’t You See,” a song which had been released less than a week prior. Additionally, FIDLAR played through their well-known favorites, including party anthems “Wake Bake Skate,” “40oz. On Repeat,” and “Cheap Beer.” One of the band’s best attributes is that they know how to cater to the crowd.

As the night (ironically) wound down to “Cocaine,” no one looked any worse for wear. Sure, we were all dripping sweat, shirts had been torn, and phones were lost. Countless shoes had been held up throughout the night as good-natured moshers did their duty to try to locate their owners. And yeah, my friend did have someone else’s blood on his shirt, but you know what? It was all in good fun. This was a FIDLAR show after all, and if you left in the same condition that you came, did you even have fun?

Written by: Andrea Renney

State Champs at the Observatory

On Sunday, April 23, State Champs put on a stellar performance at the Observatory in North Park. Openers included London based rock band Don Broco, newcomers With Confidence and fellow New Yorkers, Against the Current.  Although I only knew a few songs from the opening bands, I can say they were successful in hyping up the crowd for the main event.

Don Broco energized the crowd with its heavy guitars, groovy bass line and Rob Damiani’s unique vocal melody. Up next was With Confidence. This Australian pop punk band first started by uploading covers onto Youtube and playing local shows. Now, they are running with the big kids. They expanded their fanbase after performing at the 2016 Vans Warped Tour and releasing their new record “Better Weather.” This pop punk quartet takes a soulful approach to the genre’s sound – a similar vibe to State Champs. This band is going to get big, just wait and see. The last opening band to take the stage was Against the Current. The major problem I have with them is not their music itself but their sound system. The bright guitars, synth sounds and instrument effects drowned out Chrissy Constanza’s vocals. Despite the cohesive sound made by the band, the singer’s vocals were not my cup of tea. Overall, the performance was mediocre at best.

Finally, it was State Champs’ turn to blow away the audience. And they did. From start to finish, the group put their all into the show, playing old songs, new songs and fan favorites. Their setlist included oldies such as “Stick Around,” “Deadly Conversation” and “Mind Bottled.” They even played a new song, “Slow Burn,” and “Around the World and Back” from their latest record. Opening with “Remedy,” Derek’s vocals blasted throughout the venue as he sang “I got no time…” over and over again. Arguably, he has the best vocals in the pop punk scene, and his performance merely solidified that. Each note, each verse, each vocal run he sang was perfect, and hyped-up the crowd. However, with the rest of the band included, State Champs becomes an unstoppable pop punk act. Each member has their own musical finesse and is capable of creating magic in the studio and on-stage.

By the end of the concert, the crowd was going insane and the atmosphere was electric. Crowd surfers were flying through the air, stage lights were flashing and everyone was going wild. I, for one, was right at the barricade, dripping with sweat and having the time of my life. After the show, I even had the pleasure of meeting Ryan Scott Graham, the bassist, and had him re-sign my inhaler. You could say I was overwhelmed.

This was my third time seeing State Champs and they never disappoint. Pop punk is not dead, kids. It is bands like this who keep that spirit alive.

Featured Image (State Champs @ Masquerade 11.21.15-52) by Nicole Kibert. No changes made.