Fazerdaze – Kings Arms September 8, 2017

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Fazerdaze packed out Auckland’s Kings Arms last night and the 13th Floor’s Kate Powell and Ivan Karczewski were there to catch all the action.

Like many people with a penchant for indie pop, I found myself enchanted by Fazerdaze debut LP Morningside, released on Flying Nun earlier this year. The band trod the fine line between honouring the label’s signature pop sound without being too indebted to the Velvet Underground, seeking clarity amidst the haze.

Although sticking to a minimal palette of sounds, Amelia Murray sounded considerably more confident on this latest effort. Although it didn’t redefine any musical parameters, Morningside’s sunny nostalgic melodies have wormed their way into my subconscious on many a grey Sunday.  So it was appropriate for me that I walked in the rain to their sold out performance at the Kings Arms last night.

Opening duo Night Pilot had a great chemistry and funny banter that endeared them to the crowd almost immediately. Their dreamy sound was complimented nicely by the vocalist, whose sweetly waif-like timbre lent itself well to a slightly-amped up cover of Bright Eyes’s Lua, which she introduced as one of her favourite songs. It’s one of mine too, and I was pleasantly surprised by their rendition. It would have been nice to hear a bit more reverb and distortion in their original songs to get more texture into their sound.

Pixels were up next. They released their debut EP Toons earlier this year, and added a slight twist to the cutesy indie sadpop genre by adding vocal effects.

With songs that sounded like retro video games providing the backdrop for ambivalent lyrics, it was a fun outing albeit not a mindblowing one. Live, the band proved that they were perfectly competent musicians, but lacked a cohesive energy and as a result their sound suffered. Any attempts they had made in their EP to create a point of difference was lost in their apathy, which was unfortunate.

Finally Fazerdaze took to the stage to thunderous applause. Performing for an hour, the band were tight, and Amelia’s stage prescence was endearing. Much like on Morningside, the energy ebbed and flowed, which  got distracting. There were moments where I was reminded of early Fur Patrol and moments where Amelia’s delicate vocals stretched thinly towards the back of a song and let it overpower her. I’m still unsure whether that was nerves…Amelia mentioned that she always wanted to play Kings Arms…Amelia working for the microphone rather than the other way round, or bad mixing.

As mentioned earlier, the music Fazerdaze is creating is nothing new, but that’s why its soothing to listen to. Although all the musicians are technically very good, the squeaky clean production of Morningside was detrimental in a live setting, and probably could have been fixed with a bit more reverb to purposely scuff it round the edges. Regardless, they were tight and there were plenty of pretty flourishes and segues that left the crowd eager for more.

A perfectly pleasant Saturday night.

Kate Powell

Click on any image to view a photo gallery by Ivan Karczewski: