FIDLAR Plays High Energy Set at the VIC
By Oscar Yanek
FIDLAR, the punk rock band out of LA, takes its name from an acronym for a vulgar term used by skaters in San Diego. The band consists of lead singer and guitarist Zac Carper, Max Kuehn on drums, guitarist Elvis Kuehn, and Brandon Schwartzel on bass. With songs touching on substance abuse and the struggle of growing up in urban America, FIDLAR’s music resonates with youth throughout the nation and its fanbase has been steadily growing. Since its debut album “Fidlar” in 2011, the group has appeared on Jimmy Kimmel and Conan.
FIDLAR played on Sept. 8 at the Vic theater in Chicago. Before the show, the entrance line stretched from the main entrance to around the street corner with most of the attendees’ age ranging from 18 to late 20’s. The show’s doors opened an hour before the first opener started and the crowd was a couple hundred people (average sized). Because it was an indoor venue, everyone was right in front of the stage; fans who wanted to could get up-close to the stage. The venue consisted of two floors. The bottom floor was completely open with no seats for general admission, while the upper floor was reserved for VIPs. At many punk shows, the VIP section is frequently filled with fans who do not feel safe in the crowd right by the stage. FIDLAR was no exception to this; the sparse second floor seating area consisted of a few families with younger children and some older attendees. Most of the stage was set up like a normal concert with the dums in the back center and three mics stationed in front of the drums. However, the rest of the stage was far from normal: The Vic had decorated the stage with old, large television sets which were as chunky as their screens were large. Half of the sets were completely gutted and lined with aluminum foil, while the other half were playing a pre-recorded VHS tape that displayed the name of the band.
At 7:30 p.m. the lights dimmed for the first opener, an all-girl punk band named Nobro. Most of their set, as well as the following openers Dilly Dally, consisted of an edgier punk sound than FIDLAR, and most of the crowd was not familiar with their songs. However, the crowd’s unfamiliarity did not matter for the rowdier members of the audience who started moshing after the first song. During the first two sets, the feeling was uncomfortable because people were getting shoved and run into before they started feeling the music. The more dangerous figures were easy to identify because of their angry faces and strange punk rock attire, including an individual who sported a ginger mohawk and jean jacket with spikes on the shoulders. Before long, the openers finished and the crowd calmed down again, waiting for the main act.
When FIDLAR came on the stage, people started raging at the first note. FIDLAR did not disappoint, playing “5 to 9,” “Alcohol,” “Why Generation,” “Cocaine,” “West Coast,” “40oz.” “On Repeat,” “Sober,” and many of their fan favorite songs. There were a couple moments that went too far: on the left side of the stage, a girl collapsed and a man standing next to her had to carry her to the railing and pass her to the security guard standing between the barricade and the stage. At another point in the show, the band stopped to address a person who was choking someone. Once it was handled, FIDLAR stated its stance on violence in mosh pits and continued the newer tradition of bands speaking out against assault at their shows. This did not define the show, however, because the lead singer came into the mosh pit for “Cocaine,” where he had everyone sit cross legged around him. Once the beat started, he had everyone stand up, and he was lost in the pit that formed around him until security hoisted him out.
As soon as the show had started, it was over. The band did its final encore and left, the lights came back on, and the crowd was left to recover. Anyone who has not been to an indoor punk rock show before should definitely add it to their bucket list.