Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Concert Review: Fanfarlo and Freelance Whales @ The Echo Last Night

I heard about it,  read up and listened, posted about it, and went. Where in the deuce were YOU at, buddy? Freelance Whales of New York opened for Fanfarlo of Great Britian at The Echo last night and it was an entertaining affair. Let's start with negative points for both bands. "Hey kids! You have thousands of dollars worth of keyboards, drums, guitars, banjos, and all other kinds of instruments on stage! Invest a hundy or two and buy a real set of orchestral bells!!!! You are playing a part of a $75 dollar junior-high percussion set that also includes a book, sticks, a snare drum, and a snare stand." Also, I hate to be such a percussionist, but if you are going to switch off who plays them every song you might think about at least one of you learning how to play them and what kind of mallets you should use. It sounds like crap. Despite these feelings, however, I must admit that when the lovely female member of Freelance Whales was playing a sixteenth-note pattern on the bells with her right hand and producing the bass line with hammer-ons and slides with her left I was impressed. Ok. Other than that the bands were both fun and the sound was similar, but obviously more polished with the headliner. Fanfarlo is an interesting group of chaps and one lass who dress up in stripes and flannels buttoned all the way up and look like they are posing in an old west photo booth at Disneyland. They are a six piece unit, but when they break it down to just the main singer/songwriter and the female vocalist and violin/multi-instrumentalist it makes for some of the best moments. In particular, the second to last song of the set was really beautiful with just guitar and their two-voice harmony. The music is all rich in texture with a range of instruments including trumpet, keyboards, mandolin, violin, extra drums, melodica, clarinet, bells (obviously), and the nearly always present bass and drums. Having a group of multi-instrumentalists is very much the basis of their sound and with the exception of the glockenspiel, which I have perhaps over-killed, the switching of instruments and textures works very well. The grooves range from country-stomps to more upbeat 6/8 twirlers, but remain relatively focused around an indy-rock vibe in the southern/country-rock vain. I still think they sound like Neutral Milk mixed with Andrew Bird, but the American influences of groups like The Band, Crosby, Stills..., Little Feat, etc., are laced throughout. Good times and catchy chants, sorry you missed, but that's why you read this....right? Hello? Anyone?

1 comment:

  1. I'm here Tom Tom. And yes, that's why I read this. So I know what you youngins are up too. Big Uncle is watching.