#Where Open Air Stage – Ainslie Place (off Garema Pl)
#When You Are Here Festival 14/03/14
#So Find them at venues like The Phoenix
Nothing fake about these friends
Words by Steve Boardman.
Tonight I venture in to the CBD to check out the painfully hipster ‘You Are Here’ festival. I actually like the name; I’ve long stared at such stickers on tourist information signs and quite thankfully thought, yes I am!
It’s a warm autumn evening masquerading as summer; a faux summer fling you might say. Or you might not, but that’s merely a segway to allow me to introduce who I’m here to see: local artist Luke McGrath’s latest creation, Faux Faux Amis. For the untraveled amongst us, the name translates from French as “Fake Fake Friends”. Front man McGrath, who hails from the cultural epicentre of Queanbeyan, is immediately in character, greeting a small crowd in the French language before borrowing a line from Ron Burgundy to summon his band members to the stage. This hits a small snag when the bass player cannot be found. A wave of concern sweeps through the crowd for several minutes before Luke hesitantly turns to technology to locate the missing band member.
Once introduced, we discover FFA have the interesting addition of two female backing singers, complimenting the original three piece, classic rock setup.
Now we are under way and FFA open with ‘Piece of Cr_p’, that’s a bold choice, but the track is driven along by McGrath’s energy and the small crowd is on their feet within seconds. FFA run through the early stages of the set and each song seems to flow well from the last, only interrupted by the occasional yet sincere “merci” from McGrath. In a nod to the stage name (free music for rich kids) FFA use a clever series of interludes covering Frank Oceans ‘Super Rich Kids’ which is brilliant.
By this point, the crowd has swelled to at least double its original size, one of the benefits to the open air stage with its free entry. It’s a real mix with plenty of bearded men (and women) wearing skinny leg jeans, but also several passing families who have stopped in post-dinner.
A real vibe is born as FFA kick on through their set. Children are dancing, hipsters are tapping out the beat from their hemp knitted shoes and one fan has gone completely off the plantation side of stage (imagine if you please, an inverted interpretive dance).
Sadly as FFA had just wrestled control over the attention of the city centre, they pause for what can only be described as school teacher slap stick, with straight man Kev (the missing bass man) doing a three minute comedy set entirely in French. It’s an unnecessary break in momentum that nobody can raise anything more than an awkward smile to.
However as quickly as it was lost, FFA fought to win it back, building to the crescendo of their upcoming debut single 50/50 (cassette release date TBA). It is a grand finish, certainly one of the highlights from the set. McGrath is off into the crowd on his guitar, his energy indisputable as he signs off to rapturous applause. The event organiser and MC jumps on stage and attempts to sustain the applause, as though puppet master to 50 thousand screaming teens at a OneD concert. Predictably the applause dies out, but a steady progression of fans make their way side stage to congratulate the band.
My final assessment is overwhelmingly positive, Faux Faux Amis are a band which with the right track could easily be a Triple J Hottest 100 act. Front man McGrath oozes character and with some careful tinkering, these live performances could move out of the shadows of the Phoenix and into the hearts of music lovers everywhere.