There’s something irresistible about FIDLAR. Maybe it’s the way you leave their show with your head buzzing, or the way they seem to put their whole selves into generating their snotty-yet-serious brand of inebriated noise. Or maybe it’s just very simple music delivered by very capable hands. In any case, this off-kilter quartet being touted as “L.A.’s best punk band” certainly acted the part at the Biko House last Sunday, where their first S.B. outing was proudly supported by fellow Angeleno punksters Pangea and Adult Books, and a solid showing of Isla Vista’s finest rabble-rousers.
From the opening “Stoked and Broke,” to anti-anthemic closer “Wake, Bake, Skate,” FIDLAR’s set compacted their spacey tones, caustic guitar leads, and scream-along vocals into the tiny garage, eventually causing the whole room to boil over like an experiment from chemistry class. Sure, vocalist Zac Carper’s lyrics recall the same blissfully immature racket as Wavves and a handful of other stoney surf-punk dudes — perhaps because both bands are comprised mostly of skaters — but the difference is in the delivery of songs, some of which don’t last longer than a minute, and certainly never more than three. Despite this, FIDLAR still manages to deliver complete musical thoughts, aided heavily by guitarist Elvis Kuehn’s shredding and the simple-yet-superb rhythms of his brother Max on drums. (He’s also the unfortunate subject of the band’s early single “Max Can’t Surf.”) The mere earnestness of their demeanor might even be enough to turn a crowd in their favor; though they insisted they were having technical problems, folks wouldn’t (or couldn’t) hear of it. The odds are certainly rising in FIDLAR’s favor, and if their performance at the Biko is any indicator of what’s to come, they will only get higher — the music, that is.
Of course, every great band needs a proper foil, and FIDLAR definitely found theirs in Pangea, who closed out the night with a list of like-minded, albeit slightly more extended jams. Inspired by major-chord punk ancestors like Jonathan Richman, Pangea showed a tendency toward slower tempos with brilliantly timed changes in intensity. Songs like “Too Drunk to Cum” and “Sick of the Waste,” from the band’s eponymous debut record, showed off their intelligent timing and authoritative penchant for poppy vocal melodies, while a cover of Black Flag’s “Wasted” ensured a top-notch thrash-factor. Based on how obscenely fun these bands were able to make a Sunday night, we can only hope this relationship lasts longer than a one-night stand.