Cathouse, Glasgow, December 7
“This song is about rehab, and how much it sucks!” announces Fidlar’s impish frontman Zac Carper. The next one, he explains, “is about being skinny and tall and ginger. And a stoner!” The one after that? Blacking out. And the next? LSD. No, that’s not right; this one is about heroin, the one after is about LSD. And no forgetting the last one, “for all you cokeheads out there!”
Forget parental advisory stickers; when the LA slacker-punks release their debut album in February, it’ll have to be sold in brown paper bags with ‘MORAL DECAY!’ printed on the front. If they actually manage to shift the thing in significant amounts, the spinning of Mary Whitehouse’s corpse could power its own complaints switchboard and Daily Mail editor Paul Dacre will have them run out of the country on a rail. What we’re basically trying to say is: you’ll like them.
The first song they play tonight tells you pretty much everything you need to know: ‘Cheap Beer’ is a two-minute thrash whose chorus goes “” No, Fidlar are not a band who are going to surprise you with profundity or virtuosity (though they do display exemplary taste in covering both Warren Zevon’s ‘Carmelita’ and Fear’s ‘I Don’t Care About You’), but they are consistently, criminally, good fun.
It certainly helps that, while the songs rarely veer from the subject of doing illicit things on illegal substances, they’re also laden with memorable hooks and choruses: ‘Max Can’t Surf’ is built around a rudimentary but irresistible riff, while ‘No Waves’ may be the catchiest tune ever written about crackheads. And inevitably, when you keep propositioning your audience for drugs (as Carper does, often), they’re going to assume anything goes. At their London show a couple of nights earlier, things got so chaotic even the bouncers were crowdsurfing. Tonight, faced with a crowd about 30 people deep, you wouldn’t expect similar scenes. Yet by the sludge-punk cacophony of ‘White On White’, the audience are tossing Carper around the dancefloor like a freshly slaughtered trophy.
It’s the fate of bands like Fidlar (and Black Lips and DZ Deathrays, to name two more) to never be regarded entirely seriously; in interviews, they’ve already taken to pointing out how, for a bunch of slackers, they do a hell of a lot of touring. So raise a cheap beer to them for standing at the coalface of rock’n’roll and spitting rubbing alcohol into the fire.