It’s kind of like being a 13-year-old who was dragged to Sunday mass….or a frequenter at sex addicts anonymous meetings… or a customer at Berkeley’s iconic adult emporium Good Vibrations… or an inmate….or even a “white nationalist”…unless you’re Cole White and company…..(Sorry, maybe that was a bad reference? Plus it appears that the Nazis in the Trump Administration seem to have no problem with showing their faces, but I digress…).1
Like you kiiiiiind of don’t want anyone to know you’re there…but those who do know can see you only because they’re there too. Therefore there’s an unspoken, mutual recognition — a silent camaraderie, if you will — that you’re in this together and that you’re not going to fucking hold back.
It’s August 23rd at the historic Fillmore auditorium … or, wait, maybe it’s the 29th at The Catalyst in Santa Cruz. I wouldn’t know, I was at both. We’re STALKING a band frequently referred to as “The Beatles of our generation” (by those who know who they are) on tour (sad, I know) from start to the bitter end. According to their bio, “FIDLAR are slackers at heart”; so are we, which is why this piece is six weeks late and more about us than it is about them. So welcome to the schizophrenia and please join us in the experience:2
You look around the moshpit; you’re making eye contact. Oh my God, you recognize some of these people. Oh my GOD some of these people were at the show last week. A silent fraternal connection is communicated as you acknowledge them with a head nod and take another slug of cheap beer. You both know all the words, you’re both wearing the same shirt as last time, and you both are going to play dumb. You give them a shove testing the degree to which they are disturbed, angry, a little “off” — basically, what is compelling them to be here? Where is the shared angst, the belated rebellion, the undying tenacity towards authority and the suppressed aggression…and the choking desperation to release it as soon as possible?3
You can’t give ‘em shit for wearing Thrasher4 because you are too…your hair is in boxer braids and your boots are strapped up…you’re ready for battle…and when you look them up and down you see that they are too. What does it matter if they’re only 15, who cares if you’re drunk? You’re in the pit and the lights go down…it’s a free-for-all, and at this point, it’s too late to question why you’re there in the first place.
I look at Rosie — B-Side PR nut, ironic t-shirt enthusiast, co-visionary of the piece you’re reading and are probably going to falsely take seriously, and the only other person in this publication who consistently shows up 15 minutes late to every editorial meeting. I look around…we’re in a sea of Thrasher5 and blue hair and “Fuck Trump” attire, and for the night, we’re in our fucking element.
Next thing you know, the place goes black and the band takes the stage and then that dark, uncannily familiar baseline creeps on you. It’s in the key of, I don’t know, A-flat?, and all of a sudden there’s someone else’s beer in my eyes and
OH MY GOD IT’S SABOTAGE.
The song ends. It’s madness. I’m already missing a shoe. The nine-foot-tall guy to my right — let’s call him Hagrid — turns around and addresses the rest of the pit with the line of the night: “Now THAT was SO FUCKIN’ CLICHÉ….yeeeeeee-HAW!!!!!!”
Cliché as in predictable? Cliché that Hagrid — a man not only dedicated enough to purchase a Cheap Beer shirt, but also engaged enough to wear it at an appropriate time — is also apparently setlist.fm literate?
Cliché that a massive, white cishet man was demanding all of the attention in the room as soon as the opportunity presented itself?
Cliché that someone in a moshpit wouldn’t know how to properly use the word “cliché” in a sentence?
I remember that moment because it resonated — because the pseudo-punk, belated angst, college dropout prophecy that I was fulfilling that night was…well, for lack of a better term, dripping in clichés.
Let me tell you what’s cliché: I’m typing this with eight fingers, because the two of them are still taped together from — you guessed it — someone stage diving on my face.
How ‘bout this?
On the same day that I officially withdrew from school and quit my job (via email, like a rock star) the only other thing on my agenda was to go to this damn show.
So there I am with my dear friend Rosie and a thousand other lost souls, unemployed, out of school, single as fuck and somehow mildly fulfilling the FIDLAR prophecy.6
The FIDLAR prophecy, if you don’t know, is inscribed on the back of the 10 commandments, but unfortunately didn’t make it into the contemporary Bible…Sad!
If I told you that by the end of the night I’d be in a stranger’s car (a scrap-metal 1995 Porsche with a shattered left blinker and ancient cigarette burns on the ceiling, to give you the picture) with a bloody ear (see below picture for reference), a swollen lip, a snapped bra strap (see above photo), a missing shoe and a small (but very real, trust me, I intern for @dumpsdagram) smudge of human fecal matter on my ripped jeans (an unfortunate and predictable result of the band’s request for everyone to sit down in the pit…and the result of either the questionable hygiene habits or the next-level dedication to the mantra “fuck it dawg” of the girl who sat on me), a destroyed pedicure, whole body bruises and an abrasive, quasi-political shirt with the word “FUCK” on it that either smells like beer or beer vomit (unclear which at this point)….would that not be the most unbelievably cliché thing of all time?
Would you BELIEVE me?
Would you still READ me?
When I’m 64 stereotypes in?
Would you Chinese Weed me?
So there I am, virtually living the FIDLAR truth. I’m part of this mass body, this angry mob, this over-zealous and hyperactive jackrabbit of an audience, feeling part of something, blah, blah, blah. And the entire time, I’m thinking to myself…is it the music or is it the crowd I came for?
In a way, the show felt kind of mass produced. For a fleeting second, four words — representing a more solemn rock and roll cliché — crossed my mind: SOBER AND OVER IT.
And then I’m panicking…I’m thinking of the rock and rollers who cleaned up and where they’ve gone….
Moment of silence.
MOMENT. OF. SILENCE.
And now I’m freaking out more….am I THAT SELFISH? They clearly paid their dues years ago, but am I selfish for wanting an even crazier show?
The band infamous for untamed, coked-out, savage shows, the band that planted the seed, planted the speed, self-destructed in a hot flash to the top…has somehow managed to transfer this energy to the body of their fanbase, which has grown and evolved to carry on that legacy.
I’ve moshed at big shows and small shows, under great bands and trash bands…I’ve done the barefoot festival mosh, the drunk high school girl mosh, and the pre-pubescent boy mosh…I’ve been the fox in the safe space Gilman mosh and the rabbit in the uber-violent, hyper-masculine pit at Social Distortion — I’ve done it all.
It’s impossible to explain the irresistibility of FIDLAR because, on paper, they shouldn’t be irresistible at all. There’s no obvious reason that a three-chords-and-the truth-band, co-opting Blink 182 riffs and blazing through almost every song (at least on the live playlist) with short, fast power chord combination in a masturbatory rhythm, should be so pleasant to listen to.
Maybe it’s the lead guitar filler and solos, or the strangely melodic songs and undying tenacity in between every note, or their celebration of universal truths all over the country, or maybe it’s the hyper-engaged, yet slightly self-deprecating stage presence, or the brutally honest lyrics about drug and alcohol induced oblivion that are touching but also somehow hilarious.
So I find myself gnawing on these existential questions in that dead space between the San Francisco and Santa Cruz shows.
At this point I’m torn and frayed, tender and bruised, broken and scarred…yet I’m still going to Santa Cruz on Monday. Do I want to? Not really. Do I have a choice? Also no.
It all became clear to me during a recent conversation with my buddy, God. She told me: “Look man, everyone is on this Earth for a reason. I know you WANT to, like, fight systemic racism, personally ruin Donald Trump’s life, and be the next Angela Davis or some shit….but you can make the world a better place and FIGURATIVELY accomplish ALL OF THAT with the tools I’m about to give you.”
Then she gifted me a case of Natty Light, a degenerate friend named Rosie — have ya heard of her? — fluency in and mastery of the uber-pretentious indie voice, and the lyrics to Stoked and Broke, and I haven’t looked back. I am on the face of this Earth to stalk cult bands into oblivion, over-write the shit out of them so that no one knows if I’m being sarcastic or not, and self-promote along the way…ultimately changing the the world one column for The B-Side — THE PREMIER music magazine of THE NUMBER ONE public university in the world — at a time.
Though I sustained physical injury, justified the initial experience, and paid my dues by attending the show at the Fillmore, and though it seemed excessive, over the top, pointless, and redundant to go again, when it came down to it all I had to say is:
Fuck it dawg, life’s a risk.
(Sincerest apologies…for I am an over-the-top, proud and unabashed whore for clichés.)
ALL MY FRIENDS ARE PIECES OF SHIT
By Rosie Davidowitz
First of all, Natalie Silver is the kind of girl who goes to In-N-Out and gets a double-double with no lettuce, no onion, no tomato, and no sauce.
Yeah, that’s right, two patties, two slices of dairy and two dry buns.
That being said, I wouldn’t trust anything she says; she’s obviously got issues.
I am writing this epilogue because Natalie was afraid of the apparent shame and embarrassment that would follow if she wrote this entire piece by herself. I, on the other hand, am not ashamed of my love for FIDLAR. I refuse to deny the life-changing spiritual experiences FIDLAR has allowed me to embark on. In a way, FIDLAR has helped me find myself. I also want my mother to see what I’ve become and see my words in print, but Natalie threatened to take my byline away “if I didn’t contribute more than just roasting her in the footnotes.”
This is what brings me here today.
If you want to hear about what happened at Santa Cruz without all of her bullshit (heavy adjectives and run on sentences and irrelevant tangents about The Offspring), keep reading.
I’ve been allotted a 300 word limit (we’re currently at 202) and these 300 words will be better than Natalie’s 2,000,000. 7
Here’s what happened at The Catalyst in Santa Cruz:
1. After rushing to get to Santa Cruz on time, Natalie and I decide to park my car “a safe distance” from the Catalyst, so that her image is protected. This is funny to me because she’s wearing a Janis Joplin shirt, so I consider her image already compromised. We wait in the car for half an hour because we want to look cool enough to miss the opener — we want to look like we don’t care.8 This is funny because we obviously care — I’d argue that we even care too much. I’d like to remind you we drove over three hours roundtrip for this shit.
2. Doors. Natalie flashes her ID, which isn’t for the purpose of drinking — she does it because she just turned 21 (I don’t know if you’ve heard) and she still apparently gets a “thrill out of it.” The guy checking IDs takes five minutes to look at her license, finally lets out an exasperated sigh, and then says, “Fine, you can be your older sister for the night.” Natalie doesn’t understand that he’s being a dick.
3. A belligerently drunk dude wearing all black and a studded belt (shocker) cuts the entire line to the women’s bathroom and blindly stumbles headfirst into a stall. I see him as an unintentional warrior in the gender neutral bathroom movement. I’m into it; The revolution starts at home. And yes, my home is a FIDLAR concert. FIDLAR is my home.
4. Next thing you know, the place goes black and the band takes the stage and then that dark, uncannily familiar baseline creeps on you. It’s in the key of, I don’t know, A-flat?, and all of a sudden there’s someone else’s beer in my eyes and
OH MY GOD IT’S SABOTAGE. 9
5. We were there and we were sober. Because we had to drive home and because we wanted to experience what it would be like to go to the show if we were someone like, I don’t know, the slightly more mature Editor In Chief of The B-Side — which by the way is the PREMIER music magazine of the NUMBER ONE university in the world10 — Sofia Duarte (who would never dare cover a show drunk. This is serious business). Plus, we figured if Zac Carper can get sober, we can be sober for ONE show.
6. Fast forward an hour into the show…we need water because we are wholesome young posers who moshed a little too hard. Plus, I’m out of shape. LITTLE DID WE KNOW that The Catalyst makes you pay two bucks for a bottle of water if you want to continue, you know, LIVING at their shows. Unfortunately for anyone miraculously still reading this piece, we survived. But we survived TO CALL THE CATALYST OUT. YOU HAVE BEEN CALLED OUT. YOU ARE THE CAPITALIST ANTITHESIS TO REAL DIY SPACES WHICH IS OBVIOUS BECAUSE YOU DON’T GIVE OUT WATER. YOU’RE LUCKY WE DIDN’T GIVE THIS PIECE TO ROLLING STONE, BECAUSE THEN YOU WOULD ACTUALLY BE CALLED OUT. And we only didn’t give this piece to Rolling Stone because we’re not, ya know, capitalist sellouts.
7. Soaked in sweat we drive home listening to FIDLAR, because it’s FIDLAR or silence, and then we worked on this piece for like a month and didn’t tell anyone we went to either show because we (she, Natalie) were ashamed.
8. As we write this (Natalie being my scribe, writing down the words I say I as I drink a warm PBR)11 Natalie says: “Do you think we should add a line about how your piece is more succinct because you’re still in school and I’m not and all I have to do is listen to FIDLAR and over-write these shitty, whiny, self-indulgent pieces?”
9. Then I, Rosie, say “SHUT THE FUCK UP.”
10. MIC DROP, STORY ENDS, WE’RE OUT. (Also please help us, this is definitely a cry for help).12
EPILOGUE TO THE EPILOGUE:
BUSTED CHIN AND A BLOODY NOSE
Fast-forward — it’s a month after FIDLAR, and Natalie and I feel lost. We’ve undeniably peaked, and we aren’t sure where to go from here. We fill our time by reciting FIDLAR lyrics in a cult-like fashion. We find ourselves quoting FIDLAR in inappropriate social situations, constantly reminding ourselves of the fact that life can only go downhill from here. We go to parties solely for the purpose of stealing an aux cord and forcefully playing Max Can’t Surf (subsequently getting kicked out of the only parties we’ve been invited to this fall, and simultaneously starting rivalries with two of UC Berkeley’s most douchey fraternities). We pray; we pray more than we’ve ever prayed in our entire lives that someday we will have the opportunity to find ourselves at a FIDLAR show again (literally in the physical sense, as well as emotionally in the “I literally don’t know how to deal with these withdrawals and need to feel full again sense”). A note for Zac, Max, Elvis, and Brandon: if you’re out there, we just want to say thanks. And we’re both single.
Written by Natalie Silver and Rosie Davidowitz
Design by Camilia Kacimi
Rosie Davidowitz and Natalie Silver are in their 3rd and 4th (kind of) years at UC Berkeley, respectively, and are two of the B-Side’s more pretentious and low-functioning members. Their favorite song (of all time) is ‘Max Can’t Surf’ and in addition to stalking cult bands on tour, they will be joining each other on Birthright this coming summer, because they are both technically Jewish. They also have co-pioneered a successful instagram page (and working zine) in which they publish creative, edgy band names, called @yourbandnamesucks. Give ‘em a follow, and stay tuned for more obnoxious columns this year!
- For any of you that may be offended by this joke, I, Rosie Davidowitz, the slightly higher-functioning of the two authors, would like to go on record with the fact that I warned Natalie not to write this one in.
- Rolling Stone offered to buy the piece but we chose to gift it to The B-Side because we rival them in quality and audience size, a live example of our personal mantra: WWFD, or “What Would FIDLAR Do,” in terms of DIY spirit and not selling out.
- Oh my God this is so fucking dramatic Natalie. -Rosie.
- Natalie was not wearing Thrasher. -Rosie.
- Natalie was not wearing Thrasher.
- Also known as “The 10 Commandments of FIDLAR” -Rosie
- Fuck you. -Natalie
- Just so you know, this is where I suppress 300 words — just as a friendly fuck you to Natalie. -Rosie
- Rosie didn’t know ‘Sabotage’ is a cover, FYI. Further proof that she believes FIDLAR is the center of the universe. -Natalie
- Apparently a debatable claim as of this month (according to US News)
- Yeah why do you think this epilogue is so good???? -Natalie