Fanfarlo were one of my most-anticipated shows of CMJ 2008 and they did not disappoint. I've been a champion of the band for some time, saw them at SXSW and basically planned the last day of the festival around seeing them. The band — mostly Brits though singer/songwriter Simon Aurell is Swedish — took a day our of recording thier debut album in Connecticut with producer Peter Katis (The National, Interpol, Mates of State) to play their first NYC show at the teeny tiny club Fat Baby.
There were technical issues — they played without an actual bass amp — but I don't think anyone noticed.Fanfarlo's songs are lovely in a Belle & Sebastian sort of way but less Velvet Underground and more sweeping drama (which is probably where the constant Arcade Fire comparisons come in). And Aurell is a unassuming but charismatic frontman. We got about seven songs, including previous releases "Fire Escape," and "You Are One of the Few Outsiders Who Really Understands Us" plus a few new songs I didn't know, including this one…
I was actually concerned that Fat Baby, which holds about 75 people at max, would sell out and showed up way early. It was fortuitous as I got to see Norwegian group the Real Ones who turned out to be one of my favorite surprises of the week. (Norway did very well at CMJ if you ask me.) Real Ones, who hail from Bergen, are kind of Jens Lekman-y, but in a David Byrne-meets-CSNY sort of way. Just lovely stuff and I had a giant smile on my face the whole time and bought two CDs. Also, they had a sitar player. So do you cart your own sitar from Norway or just rent it here?