For those that don’t know, Fat Freddy’s Drop are massive in their home country of New Zealand where their single ‘Wandering Eye’ camped in the charts for 17 weeks. Not bad for a band specialising in dub, reggae and soul. They don’t have quite the same profile over here but there were enough fans in Birmingham willing to shell out around £20 to see the band to half-fill the Academy.
In fact it was the audience who were the stars of this show, packing down the front of the venue when the band came onstage but leaving enough room to skank, boogie and dance on cue.
It was a shame then, with everything set up so well for them, that Fat Freddys Drop seemed intent on flinging spanners into the works and ended up leaving the venue to booing. It won’t have been the band’s fault that the sound dropped momentarily, but announcing how pleased they were to be in Bristol? Ouch.
Mistakes happen, although committing the same mistake over and over is less excusable – bringing on an MC who leaves any hint of imagination at the door and instead reads out chapter one of ‘Played Out Hip Hop Cliches for Dummies’, for example. That was boring.
It wasn’t all negative, in fact their set started very well. Fat Freddy’s Drop are essentially a jam band. They lay down a groove and embellish it with further instrumentation and vocals as it goes along. In the first 20 minutes they sprinkled some sparse guitar and sweet vocals before jacking things up with some dancefloor-aimed 4/4 beats.
With the emphasis on jamming, the setlist included few tracks from studio album ‘Based On A True Story’, although the crowd enjoyed the central refrain of Cay’s Crays. Maybe that was what caused the booing at the end – we’re used to bands saving their big songs for the encore, so when the band left the stage and the crowd clamoured for more, it was a surprise when they didn’t come back. Which is a shame, because if any crowd deserved an encore for the amount of effort they put in, it was this one.
Review – Chris Unitt