Chet Faker @ The Toff In Town
Chet Faker is two things: a beard and a voice. According to his publicist, the much-feted electro artist hails from Melbourne’s “tight-knit disco and house music scene” (the first rule of Melbourne’s tight-knit disco and house music scene is you do not talk about Melbourne’s tight-knit disco and house music scene) but there is little trace of these roots in his sound. There are beats, for sure – dreamy, pulsing things that echo the somnambulant rhythms of trip hop – but beats do not define Chet Faker. He’s a voice, a latte-smooth soul singer who floods the room with his sexually-charged utterances, and a beard.
Chet and his two band mates took to the stage at The Toff last Thursday night for the first of three sold out shows, facing curiosity and the quiet weight of expectation. Barely out of the womb, just now launching his debut EP (Thinking in Textures, Opulent/Remote Control), and Chet is already an artist celebré, a buzz act at SXSW whose last single topped the chart on Hype Machine and received airplay on BBC Radio 1. You could see why, the minute he started playing. The sound was lush and immersive, a rippling boom of silk that engulfed the audience. Chet’s voice was powerful, flowing with a preternatural kind of confidence and sounding almost exactly as it does on tape, which is quite an achievement. His talent was obvious…so why didn’t I love him?
He reminded me of Cordrazine, that’s why. Like Cordrazine’s Hamish Cowan, Chet commanded his voice like an instrument. He relaxed around the melody, shifting notes mid-phrase and running lazily up the scale. It wasn’t quite as jazzy as I’m implying, but there was a definite jazz undercurrent. No, jazz is too strong – the genre I’m searching for here is the nebulous Kenny G- and Luther Vandross-dominated space that is known as ‘adult contemporary’. As I was watched this newly-minted star woo the audience into a lusty thrall, I could feel myself twitching with adolescent impatience. It was all too smooth and croony for my taste, lacking angst or sharp edges or anything resembling vitality. Chet Faker’s performance felt a little hokey – not much, but enough to distract me; enough to make me think of this hip new kid as very slightly uncool.
BY SIMONE UBALDI
Loved: Not much.
Hated: Not much.
Drank: Slow, boring beers.