Chet Faker – Soup Kitchen

I’m sat in the office block I call work as I write this intro, my time better spent on Chet Faker than on rewritten articles concerning the up and down micromanagement of the country’s corrupt financial sector. There’s a man on my left drilling something integral to the building into the wall, leaving my brain ill at ease and ill-equipped to deal with meaningless surveys or the current well-being of the insurance industry, leaving me swimming in dreams of a clock striking gig time.

Mr Nicholas James Murphy seems to have suffered from a certain personality crisis before falling on the pseudonym Chet Faker, Earl having been his previous stage name chosen in an attempt to distance himself from the already established Nick Murphy, bemused gig-goers often confusing them both when buying tickets. Fate decided to play with him again in the form of Earl Sweatshirt, the music industry setting up another musician to confuse the already muddied waters possible fans were wading in.

Faker is the definition of an up-and-comer; his EP Thinking In Textures, released through Downtown Records, was well received after his cover of ‘No Diggity’ went viral in 2011, gaining him some important exposure. His recent album Built On Glass is interesting and his work with Flume is also a sign of experimentation that I can readily get behind, but musicians like this tend to come and go these days unless they’re willing to stir up live magic. Tonight I’ll be finding out if he’s got much to pull from his bag of tricks.

Faker was the soundtrack to my walk back from work and my journey into the centre of the city. After a while, my fuzzy head needed silence. I’d only managed to get a bus by eight thirty, held up by a rapid pulse that left my stomach tired and gave me a temporary dread of public transport. I was weary, and sometimes the often haunting sounds made me feel too sombre.

These little dips into his music were wedged between listening to two women who got on the bus a couple of stops after me, discussing everything from their mothers (“My mum’s a bitch when she’s a bitch as well though”) to physical attractiveness (“With other races there’s decent middle ground, but with Asians, you’re either ugly or fit, that’s it.”) Their enthusiasm made me laugh, the smile helping subdue the sporadic gut rot and pushing me on to Chet.

I met my friends in one of the back streets in the NQ before heading to the venue; initially I felt bad that I’d managed to miss the support, but I was informed my mates had done the same which helped to push back the guilt. We were all excited as we entered, getting giggly as we descended the stairs and stepped into a packed room. We pushed our way to the bar through the gathering before setting up at the back and waiting for Faker.

The lights dropped and he stepped onstage in a beanie and beard, his fairly slim frame covered by a white vest. Once he started, the gentle tunes began to induce calm; the sounds left the speakers like a wave, turning my neck and legs into jelly as it hit. To me, it seemed impossible not to dance to the music but the rest of the room didn’t seem to agree, Faker even referencing this at one point, ‘This is beat music, move around if you feel it.’ My mates delved further towards the stage while I stayed back, the body heat of the room already causing sweat to form.

The show progressed well, only losing me once or twice during fairly indulgent areas where certain beats overstayed their welcome. His music melded into one smooth atmosphere that was working with the red lights to transport me to a cosmic lounge filled with a crowd that sadly seemed to be enjoying it less. ‘Melt’ and ‘Blush’ stood out for me, those being my favourite songs of his recent album, but his encore seemed lacklustre, the powerful beat to ‘Talk Is Cheap’ sadly missing from his live performance.

There were only pockets of dancers throughout the audience, most choosing to stand with their arms crossed defiantly, as if proving something to the rest of us; one woman dancing at the back was chastised by some of the crowd at one point, a person visibly enjoying themselves clearly too much to handle. As the gig went on, people started to talk which I found odd, their conversations severely inhibiting the impact of the music. During the encore someone loudly shh-ed the chatting members of the audience which produced a weak round of applause from some others.

I felt bad for Chet once he’d left the stage. His solid performance was hindered by most members of the audience, deciding to turn up and talk for most of the set, leaving the rest of us praying for respite. I’m not asking for church like silence or anything, but fuck me were there some obnoxious people spoiling the humble quiet present in some of the songs. Perhaps his music will always attract this type of crowd, the tunes stuck in that awkward spot between chill out and dance, his brand of electronica providing enough of a chill vibe to attract those looking to gather somewhere more social than a gig.

It says a lot for a singer when the clarity of their voice live makes it seem as if they’re lip-syncing and I definitely left with a newer appreciation for the insightful lyrics layered over the chill-out beats. Beyond the music, Chet Faker is an enthusiastic performer, bobbing with the electronic sounds and encouraging others to do so throughout. His stage presence was humble yet exciting and I’m hoping that sooner rather than later, the section of his fan base that I witnessed last night will begin to follow suit.

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