Even a Venue Change Can’t Stop Fanfarlo

September 22nd, 2009

Fanfarlo – The Bowery Ballroom – September 21, 2009

Fanfarlo, a group of prog-folk, Arcade Fire-lite Brits, inspired a ticket-buying run on last night’s show, which forced a venue change, from Mercury Lounge to The Bowery Ballroom, only to sell out the bigger venue. More simply, this band filled the room with five times the amount of people as were originally expected. It’s like making reservations for six but having 30 people show up. Frankly, you had no idea you had this many friends and multiplication is never a bad thing.

The band opened with “Drowning Men,” a normally thudding meditation on status. Just three band members performed this haunting, stripped-down version of the original. But three became four and then five and six as the full band spilled onstage for the second song, “I’m a Pilot.” It was a relief, but specifically it was like a surprising clown car of multi-instrumental musicians. The band then played “Finish Line,” unironically near the beginning, and the elevating “Harold T. Wilkins….” The show was built backward to the finish.

All this funneled down to the last song of the set (Fanfarlo then played two encores). As the nominal closer, “Luna,” stomped and bucked to its finish, the lead singer began by slamming an auxiliary drum at the front of the stage and ended the night with a solo on clarinet. It was a moment that showed range, and the crowd was happy to move along with the band. You could see what was happening—it was onstage and all around, times five. —Geoff Nelson