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Fredo Disco and the Perils of Growing Up

February 17, 2023

The first time I heard fredo disco, I felt seen as an insufferable teenager. His music was the perfect blend of pop punk, midwest emo, and the weird (yet slightly funny) guy from your calculus class who makes sarcastic comments. This is to say: he was a relatable, angsty teenager, as was I at the time. 

The year was 2018 and fredo disco—legally Fredo Fosco—was a high school senior in the suburbs of Chicago. He was annoyed by the same things most teenagers are, including, but not limited to: high school English class, failed relationships, minimum wage jobs, and whatever the future holds. But, he was able to convey his frustrations in a way that felt so poignant and conversational. In “Ghost of Mariano’s,” he sings of his job at a local pizza parlor: “It’s 4 AM and I’m supposed to be at work at 10/But I fucking hate my job/So I’ll sleep in/I hope they fire me/‘Cause I’m no quitter.” His disillusionment carries on within “the feelings you feel the summer before going to college,” where he perfectly summarizes these very feelings. He groans, “I feel like a loser/When I talk to my friends/Because they all have seem to come to terms with reaching the end/And I don’t want to sell my soul/But it looks like I will/’Cause in the years that come I’ll have to find a way to pay bills.” Throughout his music, fredo disco encapsulates all of the frustration and uncertainty that come with growing up. His direct lyrics, in combination with whiny vocals, feel like a confession to a close friend—at times mournful and others, angry. 

Despite his anger, fredo disco was full of enthusiasm and warmth for his fans. He consistently livestreamed on Instagram from his parent’s basement, playing unreleased originals and covers and joking with fans. My best friend and I consistently attended his livestreams, and I will never forget the joy we got from listening to him cover The Front Bottoms with approximately 17 other people watching. It felt like hanging out with a friend. 

via Masquerade

We watched as fredo livestreamed his graduation, headed off to college, and soon thereafter dropped out to focus on music. When he was announced as the opening act for a Real Friends tour in 2019, we were ecstatic. We were just about the only two people in the audience who knew who fredo disco was, but he nevertheless delivered a performance full of energy and angst. 

After his set, we met fredo and his band in the back of the venue. Animatedly, we told him that we loved his livestreams and were so excited to see him in person. He seemed equally excited, asking us for our Instagram handles; and he remembered them from months of Instagram lives. We laughed about inside jokes built through our phones and he thanked us for our support. We took a picture that I look back on fondly (despite my 2019 fashion choices). 

Since the tour, fredo disco has continued performing, though with a new direction. In 2020 his Instagram account was wiped clean, signaling a rebrand. He returned with rhetoric about the

“pop punk ponzi scheme,” disparaging what he perceived as a corrupt music industry that exploits its artists. He began a series of self-released projects with a turn toward lofi and electronic influences. Though I hold warmth and nostalgia for his earlier music, I must admit that I am not a fan of his newest releases. With each new release, my best friend and I would text each other things like “I want to like it so bad but I just can’t.” As he has grown into his new sound, we have grown out of it. But that’s okay. Whenever I am feeling especially angsty, I still put on his older music, and it brings me back to a distinct time in my life. I am no longer in high school, as is he, and we have each discovered new things to worry about. Maybe that’s just growing up.

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