Tonight Chet Faker fans huddled close, like emperor penguins, to preserve their limbs as the temperature fell to a jaw-dropping 36° F in Santa Ana. Couples awkwardly grooved in place with hand rolls and hip bumps followed by the clink of their drinks. A group of girls to my right conjured a clever plan to make their way to the front of the stage, “we’ll shout out a common name like John or Sean and pretend like we have to find our friends.” Off they went into the never ending abyss of mosh pit, that is the Observatory, when the venue is sold out.
Londoner Marcus Marr, who collaborated with Chet Faker on his most recent EP Work featuring the funky track “The Trouble with Us”, transformed the room into a speak-easy, Euro chic vibe, as he mixed “Brown Sauce,” “Peacemakers,” “The Music” and more. Conversations commenced until 10:15 p.m., when Chet Faker (namesake ode to Chet Baker) appeared before us sporting an untamed beard, curly locks, and a black t-shirt with white slits down the side. The 27-year-old Melbourne, Australia bred artist locked his hands to the microphone and let out an effortless high note that proceeded to echo throughout the venue. Fans screamed as I reflect on the fact that this man that stands before us, legally known as Nicholas James Murphy, launched his career with a seductive, downtempo, rendition of your favorite Backstreet song “No Diggity.”
In 2011, his cover of said song went viral garnering him a record deal. The following year would mark the release of his first EP Thinking in Textures. At the time, Faker needed to prove to fans that he not only possessed the capability of taking a famous song and making it his own, but that he was capable of creating his own niche in the industry with original lyrics and beats. He did not fail to do so and in fact created an album that muses on topics with genuine significance; the search for emotional connection to both people and the world that envelops us. Later that year Faker won Breakthrough Artist of the Year and his album won Best Independent Single/EP at the Australian Independent Record Awards.
Four years later he moves on the stage like it’s become his home singing, “Girl I’m trying to make you bend/Looking for, looking for a, looking for a sin/Help me think of words I’ve said/Looking for, looking for a, looking for a sin.” Transitioning from “Bend,” Faker performed “Melt” and “Release Your Problems” reminding me at times of Clarence Greenwood of Citizen Cope.
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Taking a sip of his drink he pauses to absorb the beaming energy in applause from the crowd and says, “What’s up Santa Ana? Let’s keep it grooving! I haven’t played a show in a couple of months. I’m kind of nervous for your guys…I’m going to take you back to my first release. This one is for the lovers in the room.” Faker sat down at the piano and began to perform “Love And Feeling.” The lights flickered as he transitioned to another amorous tune “I’m Into You.” Girls kissed girls, boys grabbed the belt hooks of their girlfriends tugging them a bit closer, and MILFS on the balcony overhead displayed some dirty grinding. Faker closed his eyes looking up to the ceiling, almost as if he was in his own world as the lights hit his face with red and white hues.
Before moving on he asked the crowd to put away their phones. “I use to go to gigs and feel awkward if I didn’t have my phone so I would smoke. But when I wasn’t smoking I learned to move to the music. Put your phones away for this one and move to the music.” Faker began “No Diggity” and sure enough Snapchat was on the back burner for an entire 3 minutes and 42 seconds— well for the most part. He addressed non conformist on the left side of the stage, asking them to just put them away for this one song, and then continued on to the chorus.
Faker went on to perm “Drop The Game”, “1998”, and “Gold”, the later two of which have become famous tracks of his 2014 release Built on Glass. He crowned the night with “Talk Is Cheap”, graciously thanked fans, and lovers scattered off into the inky night.
Release Your Problems
Love And Feeling
I’m Into You
I Want Someone Badly
Drop The Game
What About Us
Cigarettes & Loneliness
Talk Is Cheap