Live Notes: Fanfarlo @ Troubadour, March 25, 2014


Seeing their familiar, quirky name in print, Fanfarlo would seem to be a band I surely must have seen at least once at some point in my showgoing career. If not their own gig, then either opening for someone, or maybe a mid afternoon set at some festival, somewhere. (Christ knows I’ve seen my share for forgotten acts. Architecture in Helsinki, anyone?) I tried to conjure their ostensible “hits” and album art but came up blank. Yet a few songs into their fun, alternately mellow and uptempo set at the Troubadour last week, they felt familiar. I had in fact heard several of these songs (they have been mined by music supervisors frequently) but just could not match the sounds to a particular image or the band name. Admittedly, they do get some of blame for some of this: their artwork and lyrics can at times lack a discernible aesthetic and sense of voice for simple people like me to latch onto.

They traffic in a pop that ranges from baroque to new wave-ish, incorporating strings, horns and synths in lush, heady arrangements. It’s a mix that might have once tagged as “twee”, though what that word means in 2014 is not quite clear (looking forward to see what Marc Spitz’s book has to say on the subject in June). They have a bit of a look a ragtag crew, three guys and two gals, though they play with easy confidence and crank up the force when necessary. They have an 80’s gear that is fantastic if underutilized. “Deconstruction” from 2012 is as good a single as anything Belle & Sebastian has put out in about a decade, to rope in a random comparison. The latest single “Cell Song” crystallizes their sound into a digestible nugget nicely. (And the accompanying video is a nice foray into some unique visual imagery.)

A respectful, uncommonly good looking crowd, filling the room to maybe 3/4ths capacity, has a mix or more reserved types and pockets of dedicated fans singing along. You sense for some here tonight that Fanfarlo represents “indie” fringe of their small CD collections, while Coldplay is their Beatles. One day maybe, you’ll be hanging out in some anonymous box apartment in Sherman Oaks and casually flick through a young lady’s dusty CDs, and what do you know, right there next to A Rush of Blood to the Head, you’ll come across Fanfarlo. Thinking “Fanfarlo… Fanfarlo… Where do I know that name from?” You’ll put it on, look up and say, “Hey, I know these guys. I like these guys.”


For more, much better photos from the show, check out LA Record.

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