You almost need to be in a small, unsigned Aussie band to understand how difficult it is to sell out a show in a city you have never toured before. Think of the scores of garage/punk/metal/pop-rock/ folk/i-could-keep-going bands that have toured NSW several times over and have never sold out a show in the cultural crucible that is Sydney. And yet in waltzes this young, jazz-electro upstart Chet Faker, who on the back of a blogged-up ubiquitous cover of ‘No Diggity’ and an EP, Thinking In Textures that unbelievably charted in the ARIA charts upon release, sold out a show somewhat effortlessly. It is on this tidal wave of cool, unquestionable cool, that the bearded Melbournian casually orders his bands’ Asahis at the bar of the Goodgod Danceteria, a venue that is half bandroom, half rave cave before wandering over to watch Flume on stage.
But the stage is not really a stage, it’s more like a designated standing room for the artist and Flume, the FutureClassic signee and Sydney electro wunderkid seems completely at home. He obviously has a crew to support him in the crowd and they are going a bit crazy, he is dropping wonky-electro beats similar to Flying Lotus and Bibio and it wouldn’t be surprising if he carried a few Sun Ra records around. Admittedly, he is addictive and whilst his hands in the air Avicii move is cheesy, he can make people move and his zonked out electro is an apt precursor to someone who has bridged the gap between left-field electronic and pop music as deftly as Chet Faker.
The 23 year old conspicuously sits at his Wurlitzer piano, jamming with his band, working on their levels, no Avicii pun intended, and the crowd is brimming with excitement. There are murmurs about his beard, there are whispers about the cute, thick rimmed glasses wearing bassist and there is a tension for the band to begin a set that one woman close by had paid $200 on Gumtree to see.
Finally the chiming sampled harmonics of ‘Cigarettes & Chocolate’ drift in and the MPD controlled beats land, signalling the start of Chet Faker’s Sydney celebration. And it is a celebration, the crowd is nothing short of rapturous, it is grooving, actually grooving and there are hips and shoulders going everywhere, it is quite uncanny. Being a Melbourne boy, it is quite surreal, there was a lot of chin stroking at their show at The Toff In Town the previous week but this is a gig that is using the Danceteria as it should be used, as a sweaty, body odour pit of splendour.
The announcement of the track ‘Terms & Conditions’ receives girlish squeals unbecoming of the largely hipster crowd and it is refreshing to see such enthusiasm from a demographic usually tied down with a stereotype of apathy. But what is most amazing about the outpour of fandom is the chorus being echoed back to the band during ‘I’m Into You’, a song that is on the verge of 100,000 Soundcloud plays, despite only been available in physical or digital form for one month. It must be a truly satisfying moment for a band that only played their first public gig at The Mercat Basement in Melbourne last November.
After introducing his band mates, you can hear Nick address one particular fan, “yeh it’s on the setlist, it’s going to get played.” It doesn’t take Hercule Poirot to figure out what track the rude punter was referring to and the harassing to ‘play the hit’ would continue until Nick gave them the ultimatum later in the set. “Look, I am going to play ‘No Diggity’ but if you keep telling me to, I might not…” It is a real shame that it sometimes comes to this, but you cannot feel anything but sympathy for the prodigious, young musician who is touring an EP that will land in many Top 10 lists at the end of the year, and yet still has to put up with the small few in the crowd who just can’t get past Blackstreet. It is a curse Chet and his tight band might have to suffer for a little while longer.
Finishing with ‘Solo Sunrise’ a track that showcases the sheer strength of Nick’s voice, the band leave the stage to signal a kind of pseudo-encore and with Chet alone on his vintage electric piano the crowd is instantly hushed by the first notes of Burial’s ‘Archangel’. This crowd, abundant with beanies, asymmetrical haircuts and horrible facial hair are more than aware of the influential post- dubstep producer and the cover is mesmerising, with slowed chords and a building echo of the refrain, “Holding You, Couldn’t Be Alone, Loving You, Couldn’t Be Alone, Kissing You…” It was at this moment that every woman in the crowd wanted to fuck Chet Faker, including the one standing next to me.
At the end of this jaw-slapping, emotional crescendo, the band return to the stage for a party, a party that only a 90’s, tacky, hip-hop one hit wonder can provide and as predictable as it is to finish the set with ‘No Diggity’, it’s pretty damn fun to dance to. The crowd follows suit, like a scene from Save The Last Dance and as the track morphed into the Bill Withers soul classic ‘Grandma’s Hands’, you had to hand it to the clearly overwhelmed young man for bringing a unique blend of music to an overcrowded, over-critical scene.
But it is not just a sly clash of genres that is attracting the hype and attention of the world, it is also a voice that is deceptively subdued on record but spine-shudderingly strong in rave caves and a talent to slide pop hooks underneath more eclectic, soul sounds. After selling out three shows in his native Melbourne and one in Sydney, bigger venues are inevitable for this skyward shooting artist; luckily for him; he has the voice and talent to justify them and lucky for us we won’t have to shell out $200 for the privilege.
-Chris LewisWrite a Letter to the Editor