I’ve spent the last five months living in southern California, and one name that seemed to crop in the local music press more than any other was FIDLAR. Four guys from LA playing a messy, chaotic rock-punk-pop hybrid, I decided to suss them out after reading a review of their show supporting The Hives. A brief review in some local rag, it had made special mention of their raucous, high energy set-closer ‘Cheap Beer’ – and on finding the track, I’d instantly stumbled upon my favourite new Los Angeles punk band.
FIDLAR is an idiom, a creed for skaters on the West Coast (“Fuck It Dog, Life’s A Risk”), emphasising the no regrets/live everyday like it’s your last/chicks dig scars mentality of the culture. It’s YOLO for the new gutterpunk generation, and the band’s entire image embodies the mentality and sentiment behind the acronym from which they draw their name. ‘Cheap Beer,’ unsurprisingly, is an ode to the Coors, Millers, Buds and PBRs that their Facebook page lists under “influences.” A grimy, dirty rock’n’roll highlighted by thrumming bass, squealing guitar lines and an unforgettable shoutalong chorus of “I! DRINK! CHEAP! BEER! SO! WHAT! FUCK! YOU!”, it’s two minutes of the most piss-drenched, house party-soundtracking, mosh-a-hole-in-the-floor punk-pop you’re likely to hear this side of the 1970s (and it’s got the great video above, where a biker bro goes around beating up craft beer swilling hipsters)
The rest of FIDLAR’s back catalogue (which is actually pretty extensive for a young independent slacker band) is in the same ballpark, ideologically; the FIDLAR ideology being largely confined to waking up in the afternoon, going to sleep as the sun rises, and ingesting a lot of unhealthy stuff in the intervening time. While their track names don’t leave a lot to the imagination in terms of lyrical matter (‘No Money,’ ‘Sex,’ ‘Stoked And Broke,’ ‘Shrooms,’ ‘This House Party Sucks’), their musical style actually varies hugely from track to track. The in-your-face energy of ‘Cheap Beer’ is offset by the fuzzy sun-drenched surf pop of ‘West Coast,’ and the soupy stoner-rock-esque ‘The Punks Are Finally Taking Acid.’ The jangly rock of ‘Wake Bake Skate’ meets the more modern garage rock ‘Max Can’t Surf’ on their ‘DIYDUI’ EP of 2011.
Another aside is the videos that (I’m assuming) that FIDLAR do themselves. While ‘Cheap Beer’ is no doubt the work of the label they’ve signed on to for their debut album (out January 22), the older videos on their extensive Youtube channel are another way to get inside the mentality of the band. The clip for ‘West Coast’ sees a montage of PSA ads on drug use, as the song’s lyrics on getting high and drunk crawl in technicolour across the screen. ‘Crackhead Ted’ looks like a laptop webcam job with a few of their friends getting buckwild and singing along to the track. A few would-be Middle Eastern insurgents and the Grim Reaper snowboard down sand dunes in ‘Wake Bake Skate.’
Their album is out towards the end of the month, they’ve got a quick California tour (which I will hopefully be attending one or two shows of), then they’re off to Europe for a decent tour over there. With a now burgeoning pantheon of industry support behind them, and live shows like this, be prepared to hear a lot more about FIDLAR before 2013 is out.