Having graduated from the stage at Schubas to Lincoln Hall, the five-piece London-based band Fanfarlo played to an ecstatic audience last night. The energy was palpable as the group displayed an exuberance and general state of elatedness during their 13 song set.
I wasn’t sure what to expect from Fanfarlo, but walked away admiring their demeanor and well-honed performance. I got that good vibe that you sometimes get (a moment if you will) when a band is on the rise and appears ready to elevate their game as artists and receive broader recognition. Now is that watershed moment for Fanfarlo.
It is impossible for me not to draw a comparison between Fanfarlo and The Arcade Fire’s sound. Both share a penchant for horn, string and woodwind instruments and a flair for anthemic songwriting. In many ways the bands are kindred spirits. What I like about Fanfarlo is they do it without the pretension and self importance I sometimes feel (right or wrong) from The Arcade Fire.
Fanfarlo’s set drew heavily from their full length release Reservoir and added two new songs. Also, they kicked off the encore with the A-side from their upcoming Record Store Day 7”, a re-recording of their track ‘You Are One…’
The highlights for me were ‘The Walls Are Coming Down’ and the closer of the night ‘Ghosts,’ which has one of my absolute favorite bass lines. I adore its infectiousness and it reminds me stylistically of the great Andy Rourke. At the end of the show frontman Simon Balthazar disclosed that the band will be back in Chicago later this summer. So read into this what you will, but they are not listed for Lollapalooza leading me to hypothesize that Fanfarlo may be added to the Pitchfork Music Fest. OK nevermind that. Here are what look to be the final additions to P4K 2010. http://bit.ly/bDWTVB
1. Drowning Men
2. I’m A Pilot
3. Finish Line
4. Harold T. Wilkins, Or How To Wait For A Very Long Time
5. We Live By The Lake
6. The Walls Are Coming Down
7. Atlas [new song]
8. Fire Escape
9. Waiting In The Wings [new song]
12. You Are One Of The Few Outsiders Who Really Understands Us
Immediately preceding Fanfarlo was Lawrence Arabia, a self-described purveyor of “New old fashioned pop music.” I am wearing out his recently released full length Chant Darling, but was slightly disappointed in the live set. Hailing from New Zealand and owing a huge debt to The Beatles songbook, Lawrence Arabia and his band showed more teeth live than on record, especially on ‘The Crew Of The Commodore.’ My issue was with the sequencing of the setlist that led to a chatty disinterested audience at times.
‘The Beautiful Young Crew’ will happily get stuck in your head with its refrain, “We love each other but we hate each other /We’re afraid of each other because we want to screw each other.” That song and ‘Apple Pie Bed’ are hands down two of the catchiest songs in recent memory.