By E.R. Pulgar
Chet Faker and XXYYXX recently teamed up for three sold-out shows in New York’s very own Terminal 5. As expected, the venue was packed to capacity on their opening night performance. Despite this palpable thirst to see both artists take the stage, the crowd was plagued by an unsettling calm. Granted, Faker and XXYYXX’s subdued electronica is the kind of thing one would listen to when trying to meditate or fall asleep.
The purple lights onstage faded, and the crowd started to cheer with short-lived fervor as a single white light hit XXYYXX, who proceeded to thank the crowd for a packed house, yelling out, “It’s f***ing crazy!” before launching into his set. Known for a range of samples from Amy Winehouse to alt-J, XXYYXX ‘s signature vocal distortions blared from the speakers, entrancing a seemingly sleepy crowd.
Sticking to a purely live set, none of the songs were recognizable until he played a variation of “Set it Off” that featured a heavy bass reverberating in the background, accompanied by finger snaps and various popping effects. Not even as this more upbeat version of “Set it Off” burgeoned into Eurodance territory, a veritable mix of dream pop production and minimalistic deep house, the crowd did not do more than sway. Seemingly noticing this, the set began to incorporate pounding hip-hop beats and a much darker influence along with the trademark slowness of his music, prompting even those seated in the VIP section to sway to the beat. Despite this, the zombie-like crowd wouldn’t stir until XXYYXX ended his set by nonchalantly saying, “Give it up for Chet Faker.”
Rocking his signature scraggly beard and a large beanie, the Aussie musician was welcomed in by incessant strobe lights and uproarious applause, a much-needed energy spike after XXYYXX’s dream-like set. By contrast, Faker began extremely lively, playing synth and keys at the same time, a nice segue between his opener’s purely electronic performance into Faker’s live instrumentation and a phenomenal showcase of Faker’s skill as an electronic artist. Before the crowd could lull once more, the droning electronic music stopped abruptly. Faker took the mic.
“I’m Chet Faker and I’m going to play some jams for you.” The crowd, of course, went wild.
Faker is a performer that undoubtedly enjoys himself onstage, proving an agile dancer as he sang “Melt.” Faker and the band notably covered Van Morrison’s “Moondance,” showcasing an unexpected piano rock sensibility with Faker losing himself in a flurry of vocal runs and humming. The crowd was dancing, only becoming increasing in fervor as Faker and his band played ‘To Me,” a song from 2014’s “Built on Glass.” Definitely the evening’s high point, the sea of people finally truly began to churn.
The rest of the show went smoothly, with Faker continuing his interactions with the crowd, constantly thanking them for helping him get where he is. Finishing off the set with his biggest hit, a cover of Blackstreet’s “No Diggity,” which included fades into electronic music, Faker proves to be a tenacious and talented musician both in the fields of electronica and indie rock.
E.R. Pulgar is music editor. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org