21 August 2009

Friendly Fires Live

Last week I headed out to Williamsburg, Brooklyn (one of my favorite neighborhoods in the world) to go see Friendly Fires. It was a night of technical horrors. My camera would not work, my cell phone was acting wacky, and I just decided it was a sign to just sit back and enjoy the show instead of reviewing it. But one of my friends, let’s call her Little Sister, who was there with me, decided that I needed a review up here… so she wrote it.

Enjoy this review by Little Sister.

The other night (13 August 2009), SDM, a few friends, and I walked the streets of Williamsburg, Brooklyn, of course spending time walking around looking at some eye-candy, having some of the best pizza in NYC (Bedford and 6th, check it out), and did some shopping while we were at it. We may have been chatting about everything and anything, but nothing kept me from thinking about the excitement of seeing Friendly Fires live. Their self-titled debut album is one of those few albums I can listen to from beginning to end. As we reached the Williamsburg Music Hall, you could hear the soundcheck going on and Friendly Fires playing “Lovesick.” Instantly, though they are Brits, I knew this was going to be a New York style show, ending with a bang. My only regret of the evening was that we all seemed to have some technical issues with our cameras.

The opening act was the XX, which early on played their single “Crystalised.” An interesting band that does not have drummer, but a “percussionist” playing beats off a drum machine pad. As they sang and shyly looked at the floor, they immediately reminded me of shoegazing. Though their album was not out yet and people were not completely familiar with them, it sort of struck me as a bit rude that people at the front of the stage were holding a conversation while they were playing. I have to admit, though, I was a bit distracted at a point, as Edd Gibson (guitarist, vocals) passed right next to me, while another one of my friends was excited about being up-close to Jack Savidge (drums). By the time the XX were done playing, the venue was packed – a testament that Friendly Fires is starting to get some recognition and air play, even if it is via licensing.

Clip of the XX performing "Crystalised"

When Friendly Fires hit the stage, everyone came running and rushing like a heard of cattle, and the atmosphere changed from heavy with anticipation to excitement – from dull to fluorescent. They kicked off with “Lovesick,” and any bad events of the day were instantly forgotten when they jumped into “Jump in the Pool,” as everyone sung along: “I push out, I breathe in, a stillness turning away; don’t look back, don’t pretend we’ll never take control again. And before that we own the horizon; am I the only one that remains? The fear is failing away.” And when the cowbell and drums kicked in for “Paris,” I fell in love with this band again.

Friendly Fires

The crowd really lost it when Friendly Fires played “Skeleton Boy”: people were jumping, dancing, and screaming out the lyrics. “Intense” is the only word that comes to mind. But the crowd was pretty intense throughout the entire show, just very overwhelming in a good way at some parts. Everyone was enjoying themselves and dancing about, and if you needed to steal any moves from anyone, Ed Macfarlane (vocalist) was the man to look at – switching from Brazilian Samba dancer to lost indie rocker stumbling about, you couldn’t help but get into his groove. Ed was not the only one rocking and jumping, Edd Gibson is not a passive musician standing on the stage – it is obvious he was feeling every moment of the show and he strummed and picked away at his guitars. And then there is Jack Savidge, who typically was behind the drums (other than for the beginning of “On Board”); he is easily the drummer of the year.

Other highlights were the performance of “Kiss of Life” (a perfect description of what it feels like to see them live) from their upcoming sophomore album. Of course the crowd went crazy for “Skeleton Boy,” but one fan during “Paris” jumped on stage. She was in the safe zone until she pushed into Edd Gibson; Ed Macfarlane must have felt that she could ruin the performance at that point and tried to push her off the stage to no avail. Security had to remove her, and then the set came to an end. When they emerged again for the encore, Macfarlane admitted to the crowd that he felt bad for having to push her off the stage, and to show his sincere remorse he invited the crowd to dance on the stage during the encore song – “Ex Lover.” Though security at first did not allow people on the stage, by the end of the song it was jam-packed! And you realized something about this band by the end of the show: these are real guys, having fun, who happen to be talented musicians, not bullshit created by a producer for your entertainment. Viva Friendly Fires!

Set List:
1. Lovesick
2. Jump in the Pool
3. Skeleton Boy
4. In the Hospital
5. White Diamonds
6. Strobe
7. Kiss of Life
8. Photobooth
9. On Board
10. Paris

11. Ex Lover

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