Fat Freddy's Drop

w/ Harmonic 313,

The Forum always reminds me of an 80s nightclub with its mirrored ceilings and three stories looking down on the stage. This gave the evening a club-y feeling that benefited Fat Freddy's Drop by highlighting the electronic side of their sound. Too often they are lumped in with the dub/reggae genre when, in fact, they are much more than that. Theirs is a sound that soaks up the vibe of downbeat electronica, acid jazz as well as reggae, hip hop, funk and soul.


Up first in support was Mark Pritchard (aka Harmonic 313) accompanied by a fairly redundant Steve Spacek as MC. Pritchard mixed up an impressive range of styles from dubstep to ragga to dub and beyond. The focus on his sound is dark and often claustrophobic rhythms betraying a listening past that probably took in the industrial sounds of the 80s.


Fat Freddy's Drop have now swelled to a seven-piece band, plus MC Slave who hyped the crowd and rapped on The Nod. Strolling on stage looking the part in hats and sunglasses, they proceeded to slowly (and I mean slowly) work their way into the set. The key to enjoying a FFD show is to give yourself over to the music. The journey to get to the anthemic sing-along parts is the point.


The Nod was a squelching funk odyssey with the keyboards of Dobie Blaze Stevie Wonder'ing across the top of the music and when Slave stepped up to the mic to add a dash of hip hop the crowed responded to his energy with thunderous applause. The section where they morph into a New Orleans street band was joyously received by a thousand grins.


Boondigga is perhaps the breeziest summer song on the new record and it came like a breath of fresh air after some of the longer and slow-burning songs. The crowd responded en masse with a sea of arms in the air, unable to stand still in one spot when the loping bass kicked in. The horns over the top worked wonderfully in that they added a mournful tone over an upbeat song.


Late in the set Shiverman was a real highlight, stretched and warped to almost unrecognisable dimensions it was a a dubbed out groove that just kept going and going. Dallas worked up his vocal around the swelling music with percussion darting in and out of the mix to create the sonic peak of the evening.


The bulk of the show was taken from the new Dr Boondigga & The Big BW album with some journeys back to Based On A True Story and what sounded like a new track or two. Minor disappointments were no airing of Hope or Midnight Marauders which you can't blame them for as they must have played them to death by now. Dallas's voice which is often the human focus of their sound was missing in the mix most of the night and could have benefited from more volume.


Fat Freddy's Drop showed that their music is the focus, not the cheesiness that bands like Cat Empire trade in. They embrace diversity in sound and on stage they allow the music to simmer and grow at its own pace. The result was a genuinely and literally moving experience for both band and audience.

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