Friday night at Webster Hall was a wonderful cap to 2009 concerts! Freelance Whales and Fanfarlo closed their US tour with a really fun show. I now feel totally justified in my pick of Fanfarlo for album of the year. Their live show was simultaneously theatrical and subtley charismatic. The snide woman next to me commented that the music sounded good, but they didn't "seem to have much stage presence." I completely disagree with her on this last point. Their stage presence is charming and a bit quiet, allowing the music to do the talking for them. They are not terribly verbose between songs, which I appreciate - not every band should be cracking jokes. Their performance captivated audiences from the beginning as they re-enacted their video for "The Walls Are Coming Down" - mid-air straight jacket man and all.
After releasing himself from his straight jacket...
This was their last show on a tour they've been on with Freelance Whales for a few months (pretty much since the end of CMJ). Freelance Whales were as charming as ever, and clearly ecstatic to be playing in their hometown. I was worried at first that they were going to play the entire Weathervanes album in order, but they mixed things up about 4 songs in. I particularly enjoyed the way that "Broken Horse" came out in the live performance. His voice was a little more raw (less pop-y?) than on the album, which added a nice quality to the overall sound and made it less Sufjan-y. The show closed with Freelance Whales joining Fanfarlo on stage to sing a little Christmas song (which Fanfarlo has also sang on NPR's Tiny Desk Concert series). It was sweet, topical, and at the end they all hugged. Though, I wouldn't have minded if Fanfarlo had done their "In the Aeroplane Over the Sea" cover, too! ;)
Both bands on stage together: