FIDLAR & The Hives at Clutch Cargo’s 6-27-12

By: Troy Frisby

Indie rock up-and-comers FIDLAR took the stage Wednesday night after an ear-splittingly loud set by Austin-based opening trio Flesh Lights.

With most of their songs clocking in around two minutes or less, the set flew by. The band kicked off the set with the appropriately-titled “Cheap Beer,” setting the tone for an onslaught of riotous, carefree songs about drinking, smoking weed, and skateboarding.

A few songs stood above the rest, particularly “Max Can’t Surf,” a playful, Beach Boys-esque diss to drummer Max Kuehn. “No Waves,” the low-fi lead-off track to the group’s new EP “Don’t Try” was another highlight.

In an interview with the band, the guys explained that the name FIDLAR (pronounced “fid-LAR,” not “fiddler”) is an acronym for the skateboarding phrase “F*** It Dog Life’s A Risk.

“We thought about calling ourselves F*** The Clock,” lead singer Zac Carper said. The phrase refers to ditching a 9 to 5 job. “But FIDLAR sounded better,” he added.

Though the band recently moved to Mom + Pop Records, which works with indie music heavy hitters like Sleigh Bells, Metric and Tokyo Police Club, it hasn’t seemed to change their M.O.

“It’s been awesome,” Carper said. “They let us do pretty much whatever we want, only now our music is actual being released and not just getting lost on the internet.”

FIDLAR’s slacker vibe may be basis for both their image and for most of their songs, but it’s also what might keep the promising group from being the next Hives.

The band capped off the set with “Wake Bake Skate,” from their first EP “Diydui.” The song serves as yet another raucous example of the group’s current prerogative to drink, skate and rock.

But with a new record label and a dream gig opening for The Hives, it’s hard to tell where they’ll be in a few years. After all, life’s a risk, and FIDLAR is already off to a decent start.

The Hives

If opening acts Flesh Lights and FIDLAR relied on pure volume to energize the crowd, The Hives lead singer Howlin’ Pelle Almqvist’s intensity alone could have powered the venue and all of the band’s equipment.

From the minute the Swedish rockers first appeared in top hats and coattails to the encore, the band’s frontman put his wiry frame to good use, working the stage with a flurry of jumps and leg kicks.

The Hives’ first song of the night, “Come On,” served as an invitation to the audience to let loose, which they did, moshing and crowd-surfing for the entirety of the show.

Almqvist used his contorted facial expressions to captivate the audience, in much the same way as the stage’s backdrop showed the maniacal face of a man controlling his merry band of marionettes, The Hives themselves, with puppet strings composed of white tape.

He twisted and turned his torso every which way and climbed on everything from amps to drums to the barrier between the stage and the crowd.

Almqvist sprinkled the show with religious imagery, taking on the role of a fiery evangelical preacher, making passing references to holy water and commanding the audience to worship at the altar of The Hives.

Featuring a sprinkling of new tracks from “Lex Hives,” the group’s new album released earlier this month, The Hives seemed to please the crowd most with frenetic renditions of fan favorites “Take Back the Doors,” “Try It Again” and breakthrough single “Walk Idiot Walk.”

At one point, Almqvist stopped a characteristically lively performance of “Tick Tick Boom” to part the crowd and order them to sit down. In one swift movement, he sprinted from the center of the floor back on stage to finish the song as the audience members leapt to their feet.

The only hint of frustration from the crowd came when The Hives frontman asked for requests from the crowd, only to bypass their suggestions in favor of “Wait a Minute,” a lesser-known song from the band’s new album.

The encore included The Hives’ latest single and soon-to-be-classic “Go Right Ahead,” as well as “Hate to Say I Told You So,” a song Almqvist said he hadn’t played at a show in nearly three years.

It was a sight to behold, a group with so much vitality after more than ten years together. The Hives put on a uniquely twisted show, and the crowd should prepare to be entranced.