LIVE: La Dispute / Fucked Up @ Koko, London

By Ben Tipple

Not often are gigs preceded by an announcement explaining that the short unexpected delay is due to members of the band finding themselves locked in a dressing room; an unusual situation which introduces a fittingly peculiar performance. As Fucked Up enter the stage following the mishap, joined by support act Doomsquad, they present a nine person ensemble that launches headfirst into a sea of psychedelic noise.

Enigmatic frontman Damien Abraham retains the vocal mannerisms and imposing stage presence that underpinned the band’s hardcore years, yet the evident shift in sound now sees Fucked Up generate an unrelenting wall of considered noise, both distorted and indistinguishable. The performance centres around Abraham’s stage presence; perhaps the incorrect term considering his limited time on stage. Providing fans with photo opportunities aplenty, Abraham joins them for his signature hugs as the band continue to bombard the venue with extended outros and hedonistic blends.

The performance is unforgiving. An attack on all the senses. As the backdrop swirls with hypnotic disregard, each song merges seamlessly into the next, dominated by distorted screams and enhanced by sporadic strobe lighting. It’s both unsettling and invigorating. Fucked Up have evolved from their hardcore roots, providing carefully crafted chaos that pushes the senses to breaking point. Bewildered some may be, especially the considerable numbers who are unquestionably here for the next act, yet Fucked Up are bringing something new to the table – and then setting the table on fire.

Fucked Up aren’t the only different beast tonight. The shy, reserved demeanour that confined not just Jordan Dreyer, but the full La Dispute performance, has been eradicated. The previously rarely played ‘King Park’ marks an explosive entrance, as the crowd erupts to Dreyer’s every word. His new found confidence commands the performance as his introverted movements exaggerate, mirroring the found force in his vocals.

The performance is tight. Very tight. The heavier moments thunderous; the quieter moments serene. For a band based on poetry, they have more than found their artistic voice. La Dispute provide a challenging combination of intensity and honesty that sees the crowd react with aggressive force to some brilliantly foreboding subject matter.

Their set indicates their new status as a band, with their encore of ‘The Last Lost Continent’ providing the only outing for any material pre-‘Wildlife’. Repeated chants, requests and outright pleas for ‘Such Small Hands’ fall on deaf ears. As with Fucked Up, La Dispute are a deliberate new beast. Powerful, subtle and stunning; tonight more than demonstrates the artistry in alternative music.