Fucked Up took the stage after a lengthy wait, attacking its material with intensity from the onset. During opener "Paper the House," Abraham's vocals were left criminally low in the mix. As melodic arrangements overpowered Abraham's screams, the audience was left with the revelation that regardless of how it labels itself, Fucked Up simply writes loud pop songs. If not for the vocal contributions of its hairy-chested leader and a certain FCC-baiting moniker, Fucked Up could even be considered radio friendly.
This inclination for melody translated well with the audience. After "House," a frenzied and somewhat awkward mosh pit broke out that remained in full effect for the rest of the set. A punk writing an essay blog op-ed anecdote unfolded as this group of indie-rock dudes who wouldn't be caught dead at a hardcore show repeatedly slammed into each other for 50 minutes. This could easily serve as a conversation starter on notions of accessibility, hype and what it means to be "punk" in 2014, or in last night's case, an absurdly entertaining people watching experience.
When every song in a set is sold as an anthem, the shtick eventually begins to wear thin. Nevertheless, Fucked Up wrought some truly memorable moments from its overly bombastic approach. "Queen of Hearts" from 2011's "David Comes to Life" showcased bassist Sandy Miranda's ability as a vocalist and established her place as the most underutilized element of the band. Shoegaze burner "Sun Glass" proved to be the highlight of the night, displaying the power of the group's three guitar attack. Closing track "Son the Father" from "The Chemistry of Common Life" left any notions of sloganeering or concept album excess behind for three minutes of aggressive punk rock; a welcome respite from a set of largely recent material.
Over the course of the night, Damian Abraham established himself as one of the most likeable frontmen in modern rock. On record, Abraham attacks every line with vitriol. In the live context, Abraham comes across as a jovial, overgrown teenager. Abraham ran among the crowd, hugged and kissed audience members and climbed a staircase-like structure in the back of the room throughout the set. Abraham knows his way around the frontman game, delivering local shout-outs ("Cardiac Arrest is one of the best bands of the past 20 years") and pseudo-motivational banter between songs. Introducing a song with "this song is for anyone who has ever been called fat or ugly" is a surefire way to be met with groaning cynicism, but Abraham seems to be coming from a place of genuine sincerity.
Despite frequent sound issues with Abraham's vocals, Fucked Up's performance was technically solid and undoubtedly impassioned. While the nonstop barrage of "we're in this together" sentiments was ultimately grating, even the most jaded hearts would find difficulty refusing Abraham's enormous grin. Fucked Up remains an impressive and engaging live act, with its rawest elements ultimately surpassing its high-concept leanings.