FIDLAR at the Newport Music Hall
Have you ever seen someone crowdsurf in a trash can?
The first time I saw FIDLAR was in April 2013.
They opened for Wavves, and I have this burning image of 18-year-old me interacting with one of my favorite bands… “Hey, I’m Zac.”
That simple interaction shaped how I thought of FIDLAR since that spring. With such a simple introduction, Zac humanized even their most recent record, Too, and the message it contains — and I consider myself lucky to have witnessed the change that accompanied it.
Pressed against the rail in 2013, in a crowd of maybe 30 that could recognize even “Cheap Beer”, I was immensely happy to be asked to shoot & cover their Newport appearance last week. My, how we all grow.
NOBRO performs at the Newport Music Hall. Photo: Grayson Kelly
Without any serious planning, I arrived at the camera pit two full minutes before the first band was set to start — a feat I have never before accomplished, and likely never will again.
But oh, am I glad to have arrived on time, because I was blessed with the chance to witness a performance from the all-female Montreal “doom-rock” outfit NOBRO. As the name suggests, NOBRO contains no bros, depending on your interpretation of the word. What’s not up to interpretation is how hard these four fucking shred. NOBRO’s power riffs, razor-sharp lyrics, and overwhelming punk energy fit lock-and-key into the FIDLAR aesthetic. One of only two photographers in the pit, I almost wanted to start a mosh of our own, but his gear seemed far more expensive than the camera I borrowed from ADCOCK, so I held off.
NOBRO closed on a cover of Kick Out The Jams that would make the MC5 proud, before the house lights were turned on and "Institutionalized" started to play (followed shortly by “Oh Bondage, Up Yours!”). I begin to ponder how much beer will be thrown in the air tonight. I buy a Coors Light.
Dilly Dally performs at the Newport Music Hall. Photo: Grayson Kelly
When you check a band’s Facebook page and it’s liked by Tom Butler, you know you’re in for a treat.
A quick google search reveals that this Toronto post-punk band recorded with Rob Schnapf, one of Elliott Smith’s producers — but oh boy, did they sound different.
Dilly Dally seems like what you get when My Bloody Valentine meets vocals that can absolutely permeate their noise. This is shoegaze for people that like punk rock vocals. This is why they’re on a FIDLAR lineup. This is why Tom Butler likes them. It’s all becoming clear now.
Katie Monks belts out shrill screams that are impossible to ignore — as if she didn’t command our attention before — and it compliments the wall of sound echoing behind her. The more she screams, the more clueless I am as to what genre it actually is. I ask the drunkest person I can find, and they reply: “GRUNGE, man!”
In my head, the Arrested Development narrator spoke: “It was not grunge.”
Regardless of their genre, listen to this single and see what you think (you’re already reading a concert writeup, you’ve got time to kill.)
I know their latest album is about getting sober, but the “Cheap Beer Stan” version of me has convinced the “Professional, University-Representing Photographer” me to down over 64 ounces of Coors Light before shooting one of my favorite bands. That’s punk rock, right?
When I saw FIDLAR in 2013, I was in the very front of the mosh. As much as I wanted to be there tonight, I was excited to get the change of scenery from the back of the venue, and to ask myself: is it really that wild? Or do I just think it’s so wild because I’m right in the middle of it?
No, it’s definitely that wild.
The entire Newport Music Hall pit bounced off each other for the entire set, but I’ll sum up the crowd by asking you one question: Have you ever seen someone crowd surf in a trash can?
If you come to a FIDLAR show… They’ll open up that possibility. This all-inclusive crowd would also include a girls-only mosh: “If you see a dude in that mosh pit, kick his ass out.”
Four CRT televisions on stage lit up, and displayed some obscure security footage, circling through the set to custom SPAM carvings, literally microscopic FIDLAR logos, and more — but behind Zac and Elvis’ energetic delivery, who could tell?
The band teased the new single “Too Real” alongside hits like “Drone”, “West Coast”, and “Wake Bake Skate”, before ending the night on possibly their most kickass song to date, “Cocaine”.
As the crowd filed out of the Newport Music Hall, some arm-in-arm, almost all sweaty -- I felt an aire of cameraderie that only occurs rarely.
I'd had my fingers crossed, but after that set… I think I can forgive them for leaving out my favorite, “Max Can’t Surf”.
Maybe next time.
Catch FIDLAR on tour:
9/18: 9:30 Club, Washington, D.C.
9/19: Cat's Cradle, Carrboro, NC
9/21: Cannery Ballroom, Nashville, TN
Additional Tour Dates Here