London town had the immense fortune of hosting the Fat Freddy’s Drop worldwide launch gig of their long awaited ‘Blackbird’ album. The seven-piece kiwi band brought the house down with a high-energy performance to 500 die-hard fans at the sold out Village Underground in East London.
Getting tickets to this intimate gig was literally left to luck of the draw. People had to go through the nail-biting process of submitting an email address to enter a ballot system, and then wait for days to see if they were randomly chosen to get access to purchase tickets. I cheekily have four email addresses (specifically for situations like this). Of course this meant that all four inboxes will be bombarded with promotions, but it’s a small price to pay to finally see the man with one of the sexiest singing voices in the world – Joe Dukie.
Opening with the album title track, the crowd immediately went into a frenzy, fed by Fat Freddy’s Drop’s unique and distinctive blend of dub, reggae, jazz, soul, techno, funk and blues. The horn section’s harmonies hauntingly pierce the air over the foundations of the sluggish dub beats, delivered by their DJ. No conventional drum kit for these guys; their beats come from DJ Fitchie.
While skillfully soaring between tracks from ‘Blackbird’ and older hits like ‘Flashback’ and ‘The Raft’, the boys from down under clowned around a lot on stage with the intention of having just as much fun, if not more, than their spectators. Chart-topping aside, these guys simply know how to have a good time and we were all there for the ride.
Much kudos goes to the band’s evident skills to seamlessly blend such diverse musical styles. While essentially maintaining a predominantly dub/reggae/soul vibe, their tracks also swing comfortably between house, techno even afrobeat. With the lights brought down low and vacuous electronic bleeps cranked up, they led the overheated, hysterical crowd to rave to ‘Never Moving’ and ‘Mother mother’, while Dukie’s soulful vocals simply melted on top, like sonic cheese. With the vibe getting pretty trippy, it felt like we all dropped, not just Fat Freddy.
But the band didn’t stop there in showcasing their diverse musical capabilities. They even had a go at hip-hop, with Dukie and their MC rapping to the crowd. It was a good effort, but a bit of a stretch.
One would expect the star of the show to be none other than front man Dukie, but his charismatic trombone player, Hopepa (Joe Lindsay), shared the centre of attraction. Hopepa’s stage antics are equal to none, stealing the show particularly after a quick costume change, when he traded in his white suit to tight whites – perhaps in homage to the Wimbledon Tennis Championships? Hopepa strutted across the stage donned in a 80s tennis outfit, complete with knee-high socks, headband and skin-tight white t-shirt with the word DANCE in bold red letters across his chest. And dance he did, throwing shapes ferociously.
All in all, Fat Freddy’s Drop gave a sensational performance and the crowd roared throughout. The gig was streaming live on their YouTube channel, to which Dukie sent a message to his son in New Zealand, “What you doing watching me for? Get to school! Just kidding, take the day off.” What a cool dad!
There will be more chances to watch Fat Freddy’s Drop as they are back in the UK in October. For gig dates check their website.