LIVE: FIDLAR / Bully / VANT @ Forum, London

By Ben Tipple

“I’m a man of few words,” FIDLAR vocalist Zac Carper opens their set at London’s recently rebranded Kentish Town Forum, “this goes out to Paris.” Tonight’s performance arrives less than 24 hours since the attacks that shook music fans, and the world, to its core. Openers VANT have by this point already offered extensive words on the previous evening’s events, and for FIDLAR, the music is ready to do all the talking.

It’s a much needed celebration. From Bully’s cool exterior to the main act’s simple yet instantly anthemic surf-punk tunes, the Forum is transformed into the kind of party that shows the world things will continue as normal. VANT incite an early euphoria in the rapidly expanding crowd, despite their failure to offer anything particularly innovative. Tonight music displays itself as an outlet both for those on stage and for the crowd.

Fans have clearly found relatability in all three acts. Bully and FIDLAR share a common honesty, both rattling through songs that speak of life, relationships and (to an extent) debauchery. Bully vocalist Alicia Bognanno spits on ‘I Remember’, beginning a set that brilliantly transfers the gritty beauty of their ‘Feels Like’ LP to the stage. On ‘Trash’, Bognanno’s self-affirmation resonates around the room. The band display a confident, understated attitude and runs through the veins of their music. Bully have spent the last year cementing themselves as one of the most exciting emerging talents, and tonight does nothing to stop the upward trajectory.

Most of the crowd’s excitement is reserved for the main event, with a deafening cheer engulfing the Forum as FIDLAR arrive on stage and launch into ‘Stoked And Broke’. Tracks from their sophomore album ‘Too’ are met by equal exuberance, ’40 Oz On Repeat’, ‘West Coast’ and ‘Why Generation’ leading the crowd with their catchy pop-infused refrains.

Carper takes a brief moment to inform the crowd that tonight has “bypassed any fucking show we’ve done”, as the sold out crowd dominates the lower level, thrashing around to the likes of ‘Cheap Beer’, ‘No Waves’ and ‘5 To 9’. Only on ‘Awkward’, ‘Cocaine’ and a cover of Weezer’s ‘Undone (The Sweater Song)’ does the tempo waver, displaying their brilliantly melancholic grunge influence.

FIDLAR may not be the most complex, nor Bully the most energetic, but both have found a connection with the audience; one that allows release. With the previous evening’s events at the forefront of many minds, tonight showcases the power of music, putting the smiles back on many faces, even if only for an evening. Debauched escapism at its best, but most importantly, damn good music.