There is no better way to close out a long weekend than catching a great act in the comfy confines of The Independent. Monday, Australian artist Chet Faker showed me why he is a rising star, combining unique samples and synth beats with an unbelievably soulful voice. The rich sound enveloped the crowd commanding full attention from everyone in attendance. The show had some in the crowd yelling “I love you!” to which he deftly responded “I love you too.”
Faker is touring on his first full-length album Built on Glass. In an interview with Pedestrian TV he described the struggle of putting together the CD — first he tried to please everyone and ended up hating it; later he tried to go too avant-garde and ended up not liking the finished product. Built on Glass is a compromise of sorts and the result is magical. The music is similar to Londoner James Blake in that it’s electronic, but the elements are sometimes more subtle and support the weight of Faker’s powerful lyrics. Faker takes pride in handcrafting his music from lyrics, samples, and arrangements, to the recording and mixing, and credits the power of the Internet for allowing an artist like himself to reach such a wide audience.
On stage, Faker transitions between entranced soul singer clutching the microphone close to his face and mad scientist focused on the keys and array of dials on his gear. He has great chemistry with the crowd as well — the guy is just genuinely charming and funny. After warming up the crowd with a few songs, including a personal favorite “I’m Into You,” Faker really got the crowd going with new single “1998.” The throbbing beat and bold samples let the audience know it was time to get serious about dancing and grooving to the beat.
Listen to “1998” here:
We were also treated to older tracks such as “Cigarettes and Chocolate” (according to Faker, this was the only song his deceased pet Beagle liked), and, of course, his epic cover of “No Diggity.” He stopped briefly at the beginning of the song to tell everyone to put down their phones during the Blackstreet classic, telling the audience “You are here now” and “It’s already uploaded to YouTube hundreds of times.” Somewhat surprisingly, most of the audience did put down their phones and sang along.
Faker was also joined on stage for a few songs by friends “Cook,” on guitar, and “Kev,” on the drums, amplifying the solo sound and allowing him to get out from behind the keyboard and focus on singing and exciting the audience. They did a great rendition of new track “To Me” towards the end of the set that really shined with the live accompaniment.
Another highlight was his version of “Drop the Game,” his collaboration with fellow Aussie Flume. Not only is it a stellar song, it is a great crowd participation song with a great vocal element anyone can hum along to.
The encore was one of the funniest moments of the night with Faker beginning to play “Talk is Cheap” from the new album and accidentally starting with the second verse. He quickly started over asking the audience to jump in and help as they “clearly know it better than [he does].” I would highly recommend seeing Chet Faker next time he is in town. He has only been on the scene for a few years and is already creating some of the most soulful and interesting electronic music out there.
A quick postscript: I get a kick out of Chet on Twitter.
This dude on the flight from Chicago smashing in flight burgers pic.twitter.com/13tZVSY1uD
— Chet Faker (@Chet_Faker) May 22, 2014