Toronto’s prolific Fucked Up is simultaneously the most punk rock and most un-punk rock band in the world. On the punk side, of course, there’s a name that’s unutterable on the radio or TV. There’s also vocalist Pink Eyes (a.k.a. Damian Abraham, a.k.a. Mr. Damian), a hulking, bearded, shaven-headed screamer whose face is frequently a bloody mess while onstage. He’s also been known to stage-dive in the nude. That’s pretty damn punk rock.
On the un-punk side, there’s…well, practically everything else about Fucked Up. The songs are loud, but they’re long, with complex arrangements featuring three guitars and the occasional flute. This year’s remarkable David Comes to Life is a full-on rock opera about a young guy in Margaret Thatcher–era Britain who struggles to cope after his girlfriend dies in a bombing of some kind. (You’ve got to hear Pink Eyes’s angry-wrestler voice screaming, “Let’s be together!/ Let’s fall in love!”) For Record Store Day, the band released David’s Town, a limited-edition fake compilation in which the band plays the parts of all the fictional favorite bands of the titular David. This kind of trick is typical of Fucked Up, who claim that their artistic and musical director is a behind-the-scenes genius mastermind named David Eliade, who may or may not exist.
Traditionally, punk rockers are not supposed to be this artsy or ambitious. But punk rockers aren’t big on tradition, and they hate it when someone tells them what they’re not supposed to do. This contrarian attitude can lead down some blind alleys and contributes to a lot of infighting within the punk scene. That’s fucked up. But sometimes it leads to something brilliant. That’s Fucked Up.
FUCKED UP: The Casbah, Wednesday, July 27, 8:30 p.m. 619-232-4355. $14.