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ACL Fest Review: Fidlar

Staff Writer
Austin 360

By Chad Swiatecki

Editor’s note: This article was originally published October 4, 2013

Could Fidlar be growing up? Probably not — the L.A. foursome is still a bunch of snotty punks fueled by reckless abandon — but at its noon set Friday at Austin City Limits Festival the band showed glimpses of where it could be headed once it outgrows its purely fast/loud/short phase. Hard to say how new of a development this is since the group’s self-titled debut showed what they could accomplish a lot when recording something with more than demo-level quality, but just four months ago I saw this same bunch at a Detroit festival — C3 Presents’ Orion Fest — and they showed almost none of that growth.

That wasn’t a bad thing, since a band in its early-mid 20s can get away with two-minutes of nothing but a couple chords flying by in a blur with songs called “Cocaine” and “Cheap Beer.”

So it was a pretty big surprise to hear Billy Zoom and Blasters-style rockabilly guitar touches early on, or the controlled rhythmic plodding that marked their cover of Nick Cave and The Bad Seeds’ “Red Right Hand.” Those moments let guitarists/vocalists Zac Carper and Elvis Kuehn stand kinda put for a couple minutes as the high sun beat down on them, and added to the contrast when it was time for more songs about smoking weed and generally zig-zagging all over life’s fast lanes.

And when Carper shed his guitar and took his microphone into the crowd to start a mosh pit for the set-closing buzzbomb of “Wake Bake Skate,” it was exactly the ending this band needed. Celebrating its wasted youth is something they won’t be able to do forever (and they seem to know that) so best to trade on that currency while they’ve still got some left in the bank.