Concert Review: FIDLAR (and Letter to My Mom)


Hector Arrieta, Arts & Entertainment Editor

Editor’s note: This article was written on February 28th (this will be important)

“Man, were you in a car accident or stuck in a washing machine?” “No, I went to a FIDLAR concert.”

I’m not a man who believes in fate. I strongly believe that people’s decisions influence their future and that most things aren’t left to chance. Note how I said most things. I think there are two things essentially left to fate: who gives birth to you and music. I say this because you can’t change who your mother is, and regardless of if you choose to listen to any particular piece of music, all music shall and will continue to exist irrespective of you — for the most part. So, what does this talk about mothers and music have to do with FIDLAR and company? 

Well, I’m glad you asked. When I was 15, I thought I was the hottest thing on the block when I was set to watch FIDLAR at The Observatory in Santa Ana, CA on May 14, 2016, only a week after having seen Bleached (who will be important later). In the latter concert, my mother — the illustrious and beautiful Julieta Isela Arrieta — attended the show with me; although she couldn’t for the FIDLAR show, she offered to give me a ride to the venue. Needless to say, I was ecstatic about the show. I had been practicing all of the lyrics to each of the songs. I put on my best leather jacket, white t-shirt, and Converse combo — truly what my teen self thought was punk. However, for reasons that I still don’t know, my mother gave me a ride really late and I was only able to watch the final 20 minutes of the show. Although those 20 minutes were some of the best moments of my concert career up to that point (which included seeing a backstage personnel’s kid get thrown in the crowd), I still didn’t feel like I had truly been there. 

And, much to my dismay, I never had the opportunity to watch FIDLAR in person again … until that moment came on Feb. 25 at where else but The Observatory in Santa Ana — which I deliberately chose over The Observatory in North Park on Feb. 22 (sorry once again San Diego). This show featured openings from Reckling and Liily, both of which cranked the energy higher and higher. 

Reckling, named after the band’s frontwoman Kelsey Reckling, is someone I had been itching to see perform for a long time. I had only ever known and listened to their music since I first discovered them through — wait for it — BLEACHED, and this was my chance to finally see her perform, and she definitely delivered. To me, women in rock n’ roll are simply amazing. They truly bring out an energy that isn’t quite like that of their male counterparts. They’re not just aggressive and energetic, they’re also fearless and fierce and that was apparent in how Reckling performed.

She screamed confidence as she paced the stage, guitar or microphone in hand, shaking her head to the rhythm of the music. She was enjoying every second of it and so was I.

Reckling’s performance was then followed up by Liily. Much to my point about male counterparts, Liily brought an aggressive energy to the show and I was all for it. There was rarely a second where frontman Dylan Nash or bassist Charlie Anastasi had their feet still or on the ground. Both were jumping across the stage to the rhythm of pure punk chaos. At times, and I mean this in a good way, it was hard to keep up with what was going on the stage because on one end, all I see is Anastasi flying into the crowd like he’s Mario in his tanooki suit, which caused me to miss the fact that drummer Maxx Morando completely decimated his entire drum kit.

Although I had never actually listened to any of Liily’s discography before this show, they definitely left a lasting impression on me. Which now brings me to the stars of the night: FIDLAR. The name FIDLAR, short for “F*** It Dog, Life’s a Risk,” perfectly captures what it’s like to be at a FIDLAR show. I saw people lose their keys, people and shoes fly all over the place — elbows and haymakers thrown left and right. While to an outsider this may just seem like idiotic chaos — and it kind of is — that’s the beauty of it. There’s no other band that makes me feel the way FIDLAR does. Much like Freddie Dredd can make “a listener feel like they’re a villain marching down a dark alley at night,” FIDLAR can make a listener feel like they’re driving down a desert highway in a muscle car, going 150 mph, wearing jeans and a muscle shirt, beer in hand and another 12 cans empty in the back. While dangerous, and nobody should ever do this in real life, that’s why FIDLAR appeals to me. They imbue this power fantasy through their aggressive punk sound and Zac Carper’s screaming vocals that no other band could quite do for me. It was this that I was missing all those years ago. It was this that I needed to fulfill for my younger self, that power fantasy that 15-year-old-me thought of long ago, and that quite frankly, I feel like I’ve needed more than ever now with the pressures of adult life. This night, FIDLAR was a piece of escapism for me, and the boots and elbows to the face were worth it.

Although I must give thanks to FIDLAR for this sensation, I must also thank my mother. Much like fate resulted in me in her arms, the fate of her decisions resulted in the ability for me to enjoy this show more than I probably would have when I was 15. Without her, this wouldn’t have been possible, quite literally. Happy birthday, Mom — I love you.

All images courtesy of Helix Creative Solutions