With summer comes Fat Freddy’s Drop. Blistering blue skies met the thousands who descended on to Western Springs over the weekend to hear them perform alongside Logg Cabin & Printor, Troy Kingi, Ladi6, Norman Jay, MC Silva and Unknown Mortal Orchestra.
Greeting the early birds at 3pm was MC Slave's Logg Cabin & Printor. Their set echoed over the mostly empty park with ease, giving a taste of the power behind the sound system. With two big screens either side, the recognisable eye of Fat Freddy’s Drop's new single Trickle Down watched over the venue as it began to fill.
Troy Kingi was up at 4pm, soothing the hundreds with that funky Tele whack and soul vocal combo. The band dynamic here sounded fresh and tight. Super thick analogue synth lines wove around syncopated guitar licks, threaded together by bouncing bass lines and driving drum rhythms that got people off their bums. Playing mostly from his latest album Shake That Ass All the Way to Zygerton, the group finished a satisfying set with Grandma's Rocket Poem.
Ladi6 put on a groovy choreographed set that saw her deep orange dress match fiery vocals and bass heavy beats. The about half full crowd pushed closer to the stage as arms started to flail and legs began to jump to tracks Diamond and Jacknife before finishing up just before 6pm.
Somewhat of a legend in the UK club scene, Norman Jay put together a banging set of house, drum and bass and dub remixes to rear up the crowd even further. Touching on his days doing warehouse gigs in the 1980s, the experienced DJ's rare groove slotted well into the day’s line up.
Next Logg Cabin was joined by MC Silva and a guest appearance from JessB. A reggae DJ set hopped along to powerful spitting lines from the two friends that seemed perfectly at ease with the now nearly full venue.
Unknown Mortal Orchestra followed to ruffle some feathers. In stark contrast to the previous acts, this three piece pounded the crowd with explosive guitar riffs that left the legs wobbly. Ruban Neilson’s distorted tone ricocheted around the venue as his body twisted and twitched with emotional potency, with bassist Jake Portrait keeping things swinging in time.
On the back of performing around Europe, the whole set was as tight as it could get. Rising tensions saw an instrumental climax of each song, with saxophones and trumpets adding layer upon layer of textured soundscapes that reached all the way back of venue. Playing a stream of popular tracks Ffunny Ffrends, Ministry of Alienation and Necessary Evil, they ended an electric set with Multi-Love - somewhat underappreciated by a chatty crowd eagerly waiting for the next act.
Fat Freddy’s Drop was on at 9pm. Opening with Blackbird the group had the crowd under their spell instantly. “Here we go” was muttered amongst the now sweltering mass of dance ready bodies as the tracks bass rattled the rib cage. As the sun set and darkness closed in, the stage lit up with psychedelic purple, blue and white that animated the wandering eye that now gazed over the crowd.
Joe Dookie, DJ Fitchie, Tony Chang, Jetlag Johnson, Dobie Blaze, Hopepa and Chopper Reedz stood proudly in front of the backdrop, gliding around the stage, giving each other cheeky smiles as their set now had an even tighter grip on the enthralled crowd. Mid way through, with eyes wide and often with a joyful gurn, the crowd continued to jump along to Trickle Down and 10 Feet Tall.
Not sure if it was the harmonic quality of the groups horn section, but nearing the end of the set saw the crowd begin to go a little nuts; two people next to me were now collapsed on the floor, shouts of lost friends called out desperately and shoving streams of boggled faces made for the toilets as beer was spilt and toes were stood on. Hopepa took to the front of the stage with a harmonica solo which aptly matched the frenzy. The crowd was committed to an encore before the group left the stage and, to their delight, was consequently joined by MC Slave for the last song of the night Roady.
Seeing them for their stand alone set a few times in the past, this line up of quintessentially NZ music added an extra spice to an otherwise similar Fat Freddy’s Drop gig in the summer sun. Props to the security who had to put a certain few into time out, and the sound technicians who did an ace job with the overall sound mix.
Fat Freddy's Drop will play at the Williams Park Days Bay in Wellington on Jan 21st, you can also catch their concerts over in Australia throughout March and April.