Live Review: Fanfarlo at the Varsity Theater
Change can be scary. In addition to their shift in sound from their debut record Reservoir to their sophomore LP Rooms Filled with Light, London based pop band Fanfarlo also made a big jump in venues since the last time I saw them. The last time I saw the group they were a plucky group of youngsters dressed like old timers playing their part-Beirut, part-Arcade Fire blend of sad eyed orchestrated pop before a small crowd at the Triple Rock Social Club. When they strolled out to a decently full Varsity Theater for their set Saturday evening, the group stood behind a wider array on instruments (including *gasp* synths) looking a little bit older and a lot more “hip.” I was worried that this new sound, and attitude, would take away from the charm that had initially drawn me to them, but luckily their energetic 75 minute set proved me wrong.
Playing more from their new record than their old, the band had a youthful bounce in their step from the opening moments of the keyboard driven “Replicate.” I will admit to enjoying the older material more than the newer material (especially the stirring “Harold T. Wilkins Or How To Wait For A Very Long Time” and the rousing set ending “The Walls Are Coming Down”), but I by no means was lost during their newer material. Their ornamented sound fit in perfectly in the stately Varsity, which seemed to compliment the bands newfound “sleek” sound, and the crowd ate up their more refined pop sound, even moving themselves close to dancing at many points of the show. While I haven’t completely shed my disappointment that the band moved away from the formula I liked so much on Reservoir, their live set Saturday helped crystalize their new sound for me in a way that makes me appreciate it much more than before.
Openers Garden and Villas are a band that I had a cursory knowledge of before the show, but they also impressed me. They practiced a slightly off kilter version of alt pop, with some funky interludes and a lead singer who played what I think was a pan flute (that he kept strapped to his back) during random points in songs. The lead singers falsetto was cut by the slinky pop-funk over the bands 30 minute set, particularly on the song “Spacetime,” which was a highlight of their set. I am not sure I would go out of my way to see them again, but they hit the spot as an entertaining opening act for a great two band bill.