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live music review: chet faker, the toff in town, 21 apr 2012

Running up the stairs, I grab my stamp and I stumble into a room populated by about thirty or so folks soaking in sounds of I’lls’. This four-piece band supported Chet Faker for all three of his Melbourne shows and will be playing at Castle Music Festival at the end of June. Simon Lam’s hazy vocals envelope the room against the surreal and absorbing music that is difficult to categorise. It’s mesmerising and I found myself gently swaying as my foot tries to tap along to the irregular beats.

They treat the crowd to their new song temporarily titled ‘Club Kicks’. Strangely melodic and using vocal loops of tongue clicks and whispers, it builds up into this beautifully textured song that takes me somewhere into an abstract, futuristic landscape in my mind. Ending with their stand out track, ‘When I Know’, lead singer Simon Lam takes to the drums in an explosion of drumming talent that ends the song with a little piece of euphoria. All the while, Hamish Mitchell thrashes out on the keyboard with impressive ferocity. Then quietly and humbly, Simon thanks the crowd and Chet Faker ‘from our hearts’ and it’s over.

So I wander outside to have a cigarette by my lonesome self on the balcony at The Toff. There I meet a lovely girl who is a lip reader, a Chet fan and also at the gig by herself! Naturally, we become friends and are engrossed in conversation when we hear noise coming from the band room. Supported by a full band, Chet had started without any fanfare. And so the sounds of ‘Chocolate and Cigarettes’ builds up in the small room that is quickly getting packed as people squish their way to the front. Like a ‘tin of sardines’ quips Chet after the song, as he surveys the fervent crowd before launching into ‘Terms and Conditions’. Accompanied by excellent visuals provided by Tom Russell, the track gets people going as he then smoothly transitions into ‘I’m Into You’. Afterwards he states that ‘just for the record, that song is not about sex and being on drugs’ – a rumor which has been inexplicably circled around the music blogosphere, much to Chet’s apparent amusement.

Standout track from his set is ‘Love and Feeling’. On the EP, it comes through as a R ‘n’ B influenced piece but played live, sounds like an incredibly chilled-out jazz tune worthy of some serious grinding dance moves. He treats the crowd to ‘Solo Sunrise’ and a beautiful solo with just him, his voice and the keyboard. To top off the night, he ends with an extended version of ‘No Diggity’, a favourite during which everyone sings along with an off key ‘wayooooo-wayoooo’.

And then, that’s that. The affable and friendly Chet Faker disappears behind red velvet curtains leaving no doubt as to why he’s being touted one of the best acts out there at this moment in time.

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