Fucked Up, Weed, Bandages
Kings, Raleigh
Saturday, July 5, 2014

On the surface, the Toronto hardcore-but-not-hardcore band Fucked Up appears aggressive and abrasive. Just consider the name. Behind that intense façade, though, are songs that are sweeping, and, to use an oft-abused term, epic. When paired with the band’s relentless live energy, those tunes turn into uplifting performances that swallow everyone involved. At least that’s what I learned Saturday night in Raleigh, during my live indoctrination with Fucked Up.

The outfit—but especially frontman Damian “Pink Eyes” Abraham—fit right at home in Raleigh. During Saturday’s set, Abraham doled out nods and shoutouts to North Carolina figures ranging from Sorry State Records to Ric Flair and Petey Pablo (“That helicopter has already taken the hell off,” he said, referring to the shirt he’d ditched early in the show). Abraham repeatedly embraced and high-fived eager fans, and it was often tough to tell who was happier to be there. An atmosphere of positivity and fellowship reigned. When he stormed through the audience, fans helpfully held up Abraham’s mic cord to prevent safety and tech problems. On one of these field trips, Abraham bear-hugged a father-daughter duo who had been eagerly watching from a bench against a wall.

Front-and-center pits tend to be gyres of testosterone, with aggro dudes shoving each other just because they can. But Fucked Up manage to give these same dudes a different energy: sure, there was shoving, but it came driven by smiles and even a few hugs shared among strangers.

Though the general joy of the evening were the night’s greatest features, Fucked Up delivered on the musical front, too. Longer pieces like “Year of the Dragon” fit in seamlessly among tunes like “My Name is David” and “I Hate Summer,” which Abraham dedicated to anyone made to feel bad about their appearance.

The evening’s openers served as complementary counterparts, priming the crowd well for the heaping third course of Fucked Up. Raleigh’s Bandages played heavy and hard songs, bolstered by restless rhythms and crunchy guitars. There seemed to be so much variation within each track that it almost didn’t matter where each one started or stopped. By contrast, Vancouver’s Weed offered melodic tunes that edged much closer to early ’00s indie rock.