For all those who like to spend their Valentine’s day in the intimate togetherness of a mosh pit, Intro magazine sent oddly hyped Californian skatepunks Fidlar to Hamburg’s bunker club Uebel & Gefährlich, along with lesser known newcomers Shields (who made our Best of 2012 playlist) and Vimes (filling in for dropouts PS I Love You). Even though I’m sure that after streaming their album on Pitchfork for free to a remarkable viral effect, Fidlar could have easily sold out a smaller venue, the organisers decided not to charge any entry and instead required visitors to register for the guestlist online and then appear on time to guarantee entry. Thus, we showed up fifteen minutes before doors – unnecessarily, as only 200 or 300 hip young people found their way up the fourth floor of the Feldstraßenbunker this Thursday night, the already downsized venue never being more than half-full.
Opening the night were Vimes, a spheric indie-electro outfit from Cologne with a generic triangle-sporting logo and corresponding lightshow. Sadly, the three only seemed to have one song they played over and over, and that one wasn’t very good either. Not to mention the fact that the more music-versed of my friends noted quickly that the band were merely pretending to push buttons to playback. Someone should tell the Robert-Pattinson-lookalike to call it a day and try his luck as a model instead.
Next up were Newcastle’s Shields, who had already played 2012’s Reeperbahn Festival in Hamburg. They had some veritable hits on board (favourite “Mezzanine” even made our playlist of the year), but were not the most engaging live band out there. All in all, it was a good set and if you like Everything Everything you should probably download their “Kaleidoscope” EP.
But let’s not kid ourselves: everyone was only waiting for Fidlar to take the stage. I liked their recent debut, but the surrounding hype rather surprised me, given that this kind of straight-forward punkrock is not usually the thing your urban hipster is thought to enjoy. After all there was nothing remotely new or creative to be found on the band’s eponymous record; whether you like The Ramones or Fidlar’s labelmates Wavves, everything will sound rather familiar. But what we have here is a fun record with no frills that only gets better when played live. Fidlar do not look like this month’s hottest new band but they have the songs and the energy to make their audience dance and jump through the whole roughly one-hour long set. Their lead singer adorably honours their skate-punk roots by using a skateboard for his guitar pedals, and rather expectedly crowdsurfs on one of the last songs (later than I would have thought, but hey). In the end he dramatically sinks down on stage, but no one will be tricked into believing that any actual excess has happened here. Middle-class kids playing punk songs about “Cheap Beer” is not exactly the new black, but then again nobody expected anything world-changing either. I for one danced more than I do on an average night out at my indie dive of choice, and I don’t even listen to a lot of punk rock. Maybe this is going to change after last night.