Fat Freddy’s Drop were performing at the Palais Theatre a little bit more than a month ago for their ‘Slings & Arrows’ Australian tour. The reason my review is a bit delayed is, ironically, a trip taken in New Zealand, their beloved home country. I knew they were famous there, but turns out they are more considered as legends. And they are e-very-where. On the radio, in pubs, in the information camping sites, yep, everywhere.
Originally a jam band created in the late 90s, the group commonly called ‘Fat Freddy’ is already 13 years old. But they became seriously famous with the tube “Wandering Eye” in 2005 from their first album Based on a True Story. And they were coming back in the end of January for a tour presenting their fourth album Blackbird, out in 2013.
Originally from Wellington, the band mixes a ‘few’ different musical genres – dub, reggae, soul, jazz, rhythm and blues, techno, and surely others that I missed. I discovered them just a few months ago, when I arrived in Australia, and never fully paid attention to their musical arrangements. It’s indeed so easy to listen to their tunes while doing something else, as a chilled background music. But I was really curious to see what they were like in concert. And also to discover the Palais Theatre. Well, I sure wasn’t disappointed by both. We arrived to late for the Nightmare On Wax DJ set but just on time for the central 2 hours show.
We knew that their concerts had the reputation to be a massive jam session, improvised lines based on their studio songs (I admit that otherwise, a perfectly organised performance would have been a bit boring). Although it’s more the kind of music you would listen to in a pub, appreciating a cold beer with your buddy, it surprisingly works in a huge venue: they know exactly how to keep the show going on. Every tune ends up with huge solos of trumpets or saxophone for the delight of our ears.
Everyone expected their newest single Slings and Arrows, and it’s because Fat Freddy’s Drop loves to play with music distortion – experimenting on their pre-existing songs, which is truly what a concert is for, even if people tend to forget it nowadays. How good it is to be reminded of the beauty of improvisation.
Sitting in the higher part of the concert hall, my dutchie friend and I were nicely surprised to see everyone getting up and shaking their booties to the Fat Freddy’s sound. I was a bit scared that people would just sit casually and nod their head once in a while as to say politely ‘yeah darling this band is alright but I can’t see what the fuss is about it you know’ (to be said in an annoying voice tone). But luckily, everyone went crazy, and the diversity of the crowd was pleasantly noticeable: from the dreadlocks reggae fan pushing everyone to the 35 years old couple holdings hands or the girls next to me trying to do sexy dances (dances which were not really working for me, sorry ladies).
Fat Freddy’s Drop definitely gave a nice show for all music lovers, and even if we felt a little off beat moment in the middle, they always surprised us with new energy coming from nowhere. At the end, everyone was on their feet to clap and we felt the love going on for this band. What a nice way to spend your Friday night.
Hometown: Wellington, New Zealand
Latest album: Blackbird, released in june 2013
Sounds Like: Little Bushman, The Black Seeds, Trinity Roots & the concert had a Parov Stelar vibe.
Say what? There are apparently two story versions for the origin of the band’s title. It appears to be the name of the cat in the US comic strip The fabulous furry freak brothers, but turns out it’s also how people used to name LSD in Wellington in the mid’ 90s. Your call.