Review Colin Crawford Photos Keiko Hart
Fatal Jamz rocks ‘80s nostalgia harder than your dad’s midlife crisis, and for the most part, they pull it off. After dedicating their set to their friend Natalie Mering (aka Weyes Blood) and thanking her for this opportunity to tour, they launched into an energetic set to an unfortunately (yet unsurprisingly) immobile Vancouver audience. Clad in leather pants and velvet shirts, these glam-stars deliver a thick slice of power-pop from a bygone era. Accompanied by punchy drum and synth tracks, their three-piece live show layers simple bass lines, larger than life guitar solos and theatrical vocals. Fatal Jamz’s newest album Coverboy feels like the illegitimate lovechild of New Order and Bon Jovi. Mythologizing a Los Angeles lifestyle that probably never really existed, Fatal Jamz is pretty much genre fiction in a good way. Regardless of how you feel about their music, you can’t say this project is uninteresting or uninspired. From passionate dance moves, to leaning down to kiss a fan gently on the cheek, frontman and songwriter Marion Belle embodies his dream-chasing, fame-obsessed lyrics with sincerity and charm.
After draping her embroidered velvet jacket over the front of her keyboard to reveal her trademark blue silk suit, Weyes Blood opened up her set with a slow acapella piece. Mering’s tenor voice carries a quiet, magnetic power that must be heard live to be properly experienced. With the audience’s attention now captured, the rest of the band joined Mering on stage. With such a simple stage setup, it would have been easy to miss the diversity of instrumental arrangements Weyes Blood put forth. Mering’s confidence and charisma command attention, distracting the audience from the bassist’s old school synthesizer and the keyboardist’s lap steel guitar.
The setlist at The Cobalt consisted mainly of new tracks from Weyes Blood’s critically acclaimed October album Front Row Seat To Earth. Evolving from the more conventional acoustic folk aesthetic of her previous releases The Innocents and Cardamom Times, Front Row has a much spacier, dreamier, key and synth-heavy aesthetic. Live, Weyes Blood brings another layer of energy to these songs with tight, loud percussion, bringing forward latent rock influences. Pleasing the crowd, Mering and company switched up the tempo with a bouncy rendition of Drugdealer’s song “Suddenly”, on which she is featured. Following this with a cover of the 1972 funk banger “Vitamin C”, Weyes Blood kept us guessing with a pleasantly surprising selection of originals and covers. Mering coolly scanned the audience, often suppressing a smirk and cracking dry jokes throughout the set.
At a Weyes Blood concert, you hear some ‘70s singer-songwriter folk revival with a futuristic, 21st-century spin. Mering’s craft full juxtaposition of future and past sets you firmly in the present, hanging on her every note. The maturation found on Front Row has set Weyes Blood apart from her contemporaries, and this tour is definitively proving it one city at a time.
Thanks to I am the Eggplant and The Cobalt for having us!