Live Review: Fat Freddy's Drop, Thomas Oliver

26 February 2016 | 2:06 pm | Rhys Anderson

"It felt as if the building would be torn apart — this may sound like hyperbole, but the danger was real!"

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New Zealand's "seven-headed soul monster" received a warm welcome on a dreary night from their Hobart audience as the band stopped at a familiar latitude during their Bays album tour.

Opening with catchy brass ensemble melodies and a strong skanking beat Fat Freddy's Drop start with their new single Slings & Arrows, a track received with wild fanfare. The recent album Bays lies scattered throughout the two-hour set, with heavy hitters including techno-influenced Razor and the powerful jazz-fusion 10 Feet Tall, which puts singer Dallas Tamaira's voice at the foreground while the instruments build and shake around the melancholic lyrics. The seven-piece band was joined by rapper MC Slave who played the hype man in every sense from outlandish dance moves to call-response crowd interaction.

Fat Freddy's Drop are a jam band that are now in their seventeenth year, and while their genre-spanning songs are often too lengthy and complicated for commercial radio their reputation for incredible live performances has built them a cult following that extends all over the world. The studio songs of the band serve as a blueprint for their live shows, where the songs are twisted and extended, pushed to territories unknown to a studio setting. Opening act and lap-steep loop-pedal genius Thomas Oliver joins the funk/reggae/soul/rock/dancehall band for their finale, a 20-minute rendition of Shiverman. It starts with Oliver on lap-steel and drum pad with trombone player Joe Lindsay duelling him on a blues harp and gradually the other members are added until the rich sound rings colossal throughout the hall.

During this song Lindsay (who had stripped down from a tuxedo he had at the beginning of the show and now was sporting a tennis headband, knee socks and not much else) gave one of the most impressive individual performances. Lindsay abandoned the blues harp five minutes in, ran into the crowd creating a conga line that lasted just long enough for him to return to the stage and pick up his trombone right on cue for the horns section. Finally, he picked up a tuba — melding the bass tones beautifully with DJ Fitchie's deep house synths. As they walked off the stage the crowd stamped their feet to such extremes that for a moment it felt as if the building would be torn apart — this may sound like hyperbole, but the danger was real! After several unrelenting minutes of begging for more a very humble Fat Freddy's Drop returned to the stage, closing with an incredible and close to half an hour medley of This Room, Wandering Eye and Bob Marley's Waiting In Vain.

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