(Photo courtesy Wilson Lee Photography)

What’s the point of saving the best song for last? The logic never felt more skewed after seeing FIDLAR at the Larimer Lounge Thursday, where their best song – the high-flying “Cheap Beer” – was performed first thing.

Most bands – especially those on the indie circuit – do it to minimize the thinning of the crowd as the evening goes on. So give credit to FIDLAR – a one-album act, no less – for having the guts to cross it off the list right away.


(Courtesy FIDLAR)

They followed it up with a mostly tight set, the only interruption occurring when vocalist-guitarist Zac Carper experienced some kind of extended “technical difficulty” with his guitar, his mates filling the void with some breezy surf instrumental. Carper’s look could be best described as gutter-Gilligan in a brown sunhat, plaid long-sleeve and five o’clock shadow. Three songs in, he began announcing each song as “our last,” only to defy himself by warming up another. What might have been an annoying joke – and undoubtedly left some in the crowd rolling their eyes – somehow came across more of a mantra. Flanked by the hard-strumming bandanna-masked Brandon Schwartzel on bass and the much more plain co-vocalist Elvis Kuehn on rhythm guitar, Carper didn’t need to say much more to draw the crowd in.

They played all of the tracks on their self-titled full-length and squeezed what seemed to be a vague cover every now and then. FIDLAR is most definitely a band that highly reveres its predecessors. Look no further than their merch booth, which boasts a turquoise t-shirt with the FIDLAR name stylized ala The Adolescents, another Los Angeles foursome with a talent for making nihilism stick. Part of it might be due to the parenting Elvis and his brother Max Kuehn on drums received from their father Greg Kuehn, who played keyboards for another Long Beach legend, T.S.O.L. There’s no question that this reverence crosses over into the music, heard in the short blasts of pop songwriting and in the occasional “whoaaa” refrain.

The crowd was pretty cool, a less-than-typical mix of crust punks and hipsters. FIDLAR had the front half moving in a liquid mosh, achieving a far greater capacity than most bands that perform at Larimer are capable of. Not only did I spot an older man supporting himself with a cane withstanding the frenzy upfront, but one eager young crowd surfer sported a full arm cast. Such sights seem only appropriate at the concert of a band who derives its name from an age-old skater creed: “Fuck it dog, life’s a risk.”