Not just once, but twice. Actually, they’ve been dropping it all over California, but I’ve only had the pleasure of experiencing two of their shows, this past Sunday, and again last night.
Fat Freddy’s, if you’ve never heard them, can best be described as a “fusion” band. I hesitate to use that term, because, at least for me, “fusion” evokes something along the lines of a rice bowl blended with Southwestern-chicken-meets-wasabi salmon, topped with a jicama-lavender dressing, served out of some strip mall joint where the very un-gourmet establishment is attempting to be all cutting-edge Top-Chef creative, but ends up producing over-fused bowls served by some indignant teenager behind the counter. Anyways, the Fat Freddy’s Fusion is a much more palatable blend—actually, more than palatable; these New Zealanders absolutely kill it live.
How to describe? Seven piece band. Trumpet player, sax player, and trombone. DJ mixing their beats on the spot into an electronic-reggae amalgam, followed by a keyboard player, guitarist, and topped by a Lenny Kravitz-esque looking singer with a very non-Lenny falsetto. Joe Dukie, said singer and my new lust, has this buttery soul-thing going, and when he pauses in between sets to ask the audience if we’re having fun, his New Zealand accent just about brings you to your knees. At least that’s been my experience the past two shows.
Anyhow, the gang and I have been positively dying to see FFD live, and when we heard they were coming to California, we started clearing our calendars months in advance. But of course they sold out immediately in both LA and SF. Then, this funny thing happened: This past Sunday, our very own Avila Beach had an all-day Reggae music festival going, and do you know who happened to be headlining? Fat Freddy’s Drop. So, like a bunch of teenage kids fawning over the Beatles, circa 1960s, we lined up way early, suffered through some less talented reggae acts, and then swarmed the stage when FFD hit it.
And oh my god. Did they. They extended each song into 10-15 minute, there’s that word again, fusion jams, and we danced and shook and screamed and were just so bloody happy. The guys on the horns would take their beats up into this jazz-esque, kinda-ska crescendo, and Joe Dukie would pop in with his buttery-soul voice, and then the whole song would cascade into this electronica rhythm that left you swaying and swooning and looking at each other going OH MY GOD—do you hear what they’re doing? Being that we’re all very familiar with their music, listening to them stretch it and re-package the beats and then re-mix it was all just so blissful.
The show, unfortunately, was way too short, and after screaming until we were hoarse and still not getting an encore, we madly looked up their next show on our phones. Amazingly, they added another show in LA, and IT WASN'T SOLD OUT, so we decided on the spot we would be road-tripping it to LA on Thursday.
They played in this very cool Hollywood-venue called The Music Box. A DJ opened, and killed it with his mix of electronic/reggaeton/cumbia loveliness, you know, to get us warmed up, and then FFD came out and played such a long set that the whole audience was left exhausted and exhilarated and awed. Their inside show was very different from the outdoor Avila experience—I think the venue had a lot to do with it. Each song stretched and built and came down and rose up again, and was layered and blended into something that I can only describe as a musical experience that was absolutely fulfilling. Listening to them made me feel like my heart was breaking and being put back together again, more whole than the first time.
I’m including a YouTube video link. See them live. And tell Joe Dukie to marry me.