Chronicling the creative process for Pop Zeus, the forthcoming Guided By Voices/Bob Pollard tribute comic- including sketches, concepts, finished art and whatever else is in my brain at the moment.

Friday, July 07, 2006

Fab Faux Show Review


(photos courtesy of thefabfaux.com)

Following the six and a half hour drive to Pittsburgh and the Pearl Jam/Robert Pollard show that same night, me and my brother crashed landed in our cushy Doubletree beds. It would have been lovely to take a dip in the pool or even just sleep in. But alas, we had tickets to go see another show the very next night in Red Bank, New Jersey! I was seriously questioning the logic of this plan. Ultimately, I decided to keep my mouth shut and get driving. But man, was the marathon drive back home ever worth it!

The show we were racing home for was the Fab Faux at the historic Count Basie Theater. Now I know what you are thinking- a Beatles cover band? You left the comfort of the Doubletree Inn to race seven hours for a Beatles cover band? But this is no ordinary cover band.

I had first heard of the Fab Faux sometime last year on Howard Stern. And my mind was totally blown. Here were a bunch of extremely talented New York-based musicians, several I was familiar with from Conan O'Brien's and David Letterman's bands, playing some of the most complicated late 60's Beatles music with passion and excellence. And their goal was not to imitate the Beatles but to perform the music as accurate to the albums as possible, while continuing to look and sing like themselves. And they were brilliant.

So I couldn't pass up this opportunity to see the Fab Faux, especially given their tours rarely extend beyond the "Tri-State Area". It was a typically hot and soupy New Jersey summer evening as we finally arrived in my old stomping grounds. And the old theater was jam packed full of... baby boomers? I guess I should have expected an older crowd, but it did feel quite weird being among the youngest people there (especially since going to most club rock shows makes me feel old anymore). I consider myself to be a total slobbering Beatlemaniac so I often forget that their core audience is pushing 50 (or 60!). Disappointing not to see more of my contemporaries there- I thought everyone loved the Beatles?

Anyway, my expectations were high and my back was sweaty (the air conditioning seemed broken at the Count Basie) as the curtain rose for the show. And wow, did the Fab Faux kick some serious arse! The power of their show works on several levels. First off, its just weird and magical to hear these incredible Beatle songs you've played a million times each being performed live- your ears say Beatles even if your eyes are confused. Secondly, its amazing to see the musicianship at work. The Fab Faux not only play all the instruments you hear on the records (two guitars playing at once for the double tracked guitar sound, Fab Faux members doing triple duty playing keyboards/synth sound effects, guitar and percussion!) including a horn section and strings and the sound effects from the records (think I Am The Walrus!) but they also simulate the double tracked vocals by singing simultaneously, switching off on lead vocals and harmony. They sing a pitch-perfect "Because" and "Oh, Darling!" for crying out loud! And lastly, the passion they feel for the music of Paul, John, George and Ringo oozes out of their pores and is totally infectious (no pun intended).

The Fab Faux specialize in the more complex later Beatles tracks. Their signature performances that night included mind-blowing album-perfect renditions of Back In The USSR, Penny Lane, I Am The Walrus, and While My Guitar Gently Weeps! Other highlights included Will Lee sitting on the edge of the stage for a lovely Mother Nature's Son, Dear Prudence (which always affects me deeply for some reason), a spirited Martha My Dear, my favorite early Beatles hit Please Please Me, and the odd rarity with the reggae break I Call Your Name.



But the kicker was how they closed out the show. It seemed early for the Fab Faux to be saying goodnight, but we were in for a surprise. When they launched into Because, followed quickly by You Never Give Me Your Money, I knew we were being treated to the entirety of Abbey Road Side 2! Holy Jesus! It was a truly magical performance. And the whole pacing and lead up to the end of Abbey Road always hits me with a lot of emotion (thinking about it being the last time they all played together, and its themes of death and celebration) so I was totally bowled over and choked up at the same time. Golden Slumbers and Carry That Weight especially fuck up my shit every time. And hearing them live was that much more powerful. But by the time we got to The End, the crowd were on their feet (awkwardly dancing in that middle aged white people way, but still loving it up). The famous final drum solo followed by three guitar solos by George, Paul and John were performed perfectly. And Her Majesty wrapped it up- wow!

The encore was an extended jam of Everybody's Got Something To Hide Except For Me And My Monkey- a fun way to close out the evening. I can't recommend going to see the Fab Faux enough. Hopefully, they will venture west and bless our shores with some Beatles rock done rightly! Have a fab weekend y'all!

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