An Excellent Opening Night of CMJ

October 21st, 2009

Fanfarlo – Music Hall of Williamsburg – October 20, 2009

(Photo: Daniel Perlaky)

(Photo: Daniel Perlaky)

Fanfarlo. These kids, hailing from London, Sweden and Belgium, really blew me away as the headliners for last night’s Brooklyn Vegan showcase at Music Hall of Williamsburg. While they’d recently played there, I didn’t get a chance to see them, and since I’ve been listening to Reservoir off and on all year, I had high hopes for their live show. I was not disappointed! They started off the night with an acoustic version of “Drowning Men,” with just lead vocalist Simon Balthazar and Cathy Lucas, who played the mandolin. Immediately after, the rest of the band entered and Balthazar broke a string. Undaunted, they launched right into their next song, which sadly lacked the group’s usual robustness due to the missing string.

Luckily, CMJ hosts a friendly crowd and Marcus Mumford (playing tomorrow at the Merc) kindly stepped in and offered his own guitar. It was a huge help for Fanfarlo, and then they let loose. Now I can tell why their fans are so rabid: This band’s music is not in and of itself unique, but they pull together sounds from different eras, drawing in histories, and they utilize a number of instruments not usually given leading roles in popular music. The resulting sounds, played with great energy, made it impossible to resist the driving momentum of their songs. My favorite of the night was “Luna,” because Lucas brought out the saw. She played it so well that it sounded eerily human, natural and yet not. All in all, very impressive and well done. —Anna Loosli