OAKLAND — FIDLAR stopped at the Fox Theater Friday for the penultimate show of a tour leading up to the release of the Los Angeles punk band’s forthcoming album, Almost Free. The band played a high-energy set and delivered surprising amounts of musical and sonic diversity, sometimes contrasting punk with indie pop, which worked very well with its slower, more melodic tracks.
Beginning with new cut “Alcohol,” singer Zac Carper and his bandmates then played another Almost Free track, “Can’t You See.” The song began with a chuggy, repetitive guitar hook and transitioned into clean, bluesy guitar riffs. The song could have come straight out of the ‘70s.
Elvis Kuehn’s guitar-picking was in constant conversation with Carper’s vocal delivery. “Last week/ Last week that was so last week/ Now I need a new thing,” the frontman sang. Kuehn didn’t try to overpower the vocals, which allowed the song’s simplicity to shine.
Other standout performances included “40oz. On Repeat,” off FIDLAR’s 2015 album, Too. More sensitive songs like that one juxtaposed well with the band’s gritty punk aesthetic. “Stoked and Broke,” off the band’s 2013 self-titled debut LP, also featured Carper’s distressed vocals, but more noticeably provided Kuehn a platform to construct an ear-piercing guitar solo.
“It’s good to be back in California!” said Carper, whose band has been away from home for months.
FIDLAR was preceded by Canadian rock band Dilly Dally. Lead singer Katie Monks sang high-pitched, screeching vocal hooks amid a landscape of punchy, bluesy guitar hooks. Tracks like “Gender Role” assumed a thoughtfully aware political stance. Dilly Dally jumped straight into the song with violent intensity. The band’s music overtly questioned power structures culture perceptions.
The Side Eyes started off the show with fast, hard-hitting punk rock ballads. Lead singer Astrid McDonald employed forceful and vicious vocal attacks that were juxtaposed with her seemingly pure on-stage presence. “Cat Call” demonstrated The Side Eyes’ technical diversity with fast, heavy metallic chord progressions set against a bass-filled rhythm, section. “Stop” emphasized McDonald’s unrest as she angrily shouted at the top of her lungs.
— Zachary James