22 Apr 2014: Bowery Ballroom New York
When Fanfarlo’s drummer, Amos Memon departed from the band last year, Valentina Magaletti took on the role. The more gender-balanced Fanfarlo then released their newest album Let’s Go Extinct earlier this year to a cumulatively somewhat improved score over their past two albums (at Metacritic) though less people took the time to review it (including this site). So, should I feel sad that one of my favorite bands in the past five years is garnering less attention, which means they are playing smaller venues, or be happy because I can stand closer to the stage and not get jostled?
On the newest album, Fanfarlo are even more thematically cohesive than before, the songs are about the evolution of humanity and the possibility of extinction. A dire topic for sure and not very inviting, but the music is still engaging with the band members hopping between their different instruments including the saw and the saxophone. Let’s Go Extinct (I keep wanting to include an exclamation mark after the ironic title, yay extinction!) is the most cohesive work yet from the band and a warmer sound than Rooms Filled with Light.
So at the Bowery Ballroom show, the first of Fanfarlo’s two nights in NYC (a Rough Trade NYC show on the second night), I was up front for a long while, partly to get some photos of the band and the opener Lilles on Mars (who I missed most of actually) but mostly because I wanted to. There was one die-hard fan right up next to the stage, just about at singer Simon Balthazar’s feet. The young fellow was flailing and waving his arms more than anyone else in the venue for the band’s most bombastic moments. And there were several of those, notably the epic “Harold T. Wilkins”, from their proper first full length Reservoirs, and the newest single, “Landlocked”, an enthusiastically bouncy track.
I wonder if he was surprised when the band played an outtake from their last album, “Vostok”. But there was generally a good mix of tracks from their career. The darker ones, like the Earth-colliding “Tunguska” were enjoyably warm with the sax and trumpet sounds meshing in the sparse light. The band closed the night with “The Walls are Coming Down” as Balthazar and Cathy Lucas united their vocals with Leon Beckenham’s trumpet and invited fans to attend their show the following night. Fanfarlo may have cerebral elements to their lyrics but they aren’t so abstract that they aren’t approachable. More people should be listening to their albums or catch them on tour to sense the wide-swath of their musical abilities.
Life in the Sky
I’m a Pilot
Vostok, I Know You are Waiting
Harold T. Wilkins, or How to Wait for a Very Long Time
Let’s Go Extinct
The Walls are Coming Down