Into Music Live Review: Fazerdaze
Date: 9 November 2023
Over recent years, several small music venues have closed their doors, many of them victims of the pandemic, others because neighbours have complained about noise pollution despite buying a property right next to a music venue!
In these unsettling and unpredictable times, it’s humbling that Glasgow’s iconic King Tut’s Wah Wah Hut remains in business and appears to be as strong as ever, or at least that’s the impression I get as a punter. As someone who has been in bands over the years and has played King Tut’s a few times, the ticketing system favours the more established act (it’s difficult, often impossible, to sell decent numbers of tickets when you’re fresh on the scene), but regardless, the venue itself is a fantastic, intimate space that attracts a range of different genres and offers audiences variety and ample opportunity to find their next favourite act.
Headlining on Thursday 9 November was Fazerdaze, which I initially thought was a band name, but it turns out it’s a moniker for Amelia Rahayu Murray, a songwriter, producer and multi-instrumentalist from Christchurch, New Zealand. There is a full band, but unfortunately (I’m assuming because of distance and cost), they weren’t able to accompany Murray on her UK tour, meaning she was performing solo, albeit with the aid of laptop-generated backing tracks for the upbeat parts of her set.
Smack on time, Fazerdaze took her place on the stage in front of what looked like a blank white sheet, an acoustic and an electric guitar on stands either side. As the audience soon found out, on some tracks the acoustic guitar sounded exactly as anyone might expect it to sound, but for others, it sounded as far removed as you could imagine, down entirely to Amelia’s competence and creativity with effects pedals. This alone was an entertaining quirk which, although not necessarily new or original, added to the entertainment because of how well it was implemented.
What I loved so much about the set was the variety. For a lot of her material, Fazerdaze could be found under the same umbrella as the likes of Ladyhawke, Chvrches and Cocteau Twins, which is no criticism, but she split things up with intimate, stripped back numbers, which not only showcased her musical competencies, but also allowed a more emotional, vulnerable side of her performance to shine through. Personally, I found this approach quite courageous. It was a pint-swigging Glasgow audience out on a Thursday night after all, so to hit them with synth pop banger after synth pop banger and then drop things down a fair old number of notches . . . well, I’ve seen this go wrong before! Thankfully, with the exception of one inconsiderate prick talking loudly to his mate, the audience dropped down with her, showing that she had them – or at least most of them – in the palm of her hand. A request to come closer to the stage was then honoured, everyone shuffling forward a few steps to get closer to the action.
During the slower numbers, the backdrop either remained white or had subtle, minimalist shapes appearing on it, whereas during the up-tempo, synth-driven numbers, the light show was bright, colourful and frantic, a disco vibe complimenting the music but never trying to upstage it.
Around two-thirds into the set, and clearly feeling the appreciation from the crowd, Fazerdaze took the opportunity to thank them for turning up. King Tut’s was close to full and she was clearly touched that someone from the other side of the world could achieve such a feat on a dreich Thursday in November. During these moments of gratitude, she also divulged that she had recently been through a difficult period, which had temporarily put her music endeavours on hold. Now out of the other side of that bubble and getting back to doing what she loves so much, she became a little emotional, no doubt in part because of how the Glasgow crowd had reacted to her and her performance. It was a moment that wouldn’t be possible in a large venue, reinforcing the importance and significance of smaller/small venues for gig lovers and performers alike.
The backing tracks, I assume put together by the full band, were of high quality, incorporating driving beats, pulsing bass grooves and tasteful synth parts, the gaps skillfully filled by live vocals and guitar and, on one occasion, a looper. There was nothing overcomplex or complicated about the set-up, the good use of software and raw talent coming together to provide well-rounded soundscapes that Fazerdaze’s sweet vocals could sit on comfortably.
For a solo show lasting an hour, it was captivating, never dull and often spellbinding. During one of the up-tempo numbers, I noticed a couple down the front completely lost in the music, the girl shoegazing while running her hands through the back of her partner’s hair, massaging his scalp as he grooved side to side, eyes closed, lost in the music and loving the moment.
Speaking of the moment, it was great to see hardly any mobile phones in the crowd. There were, of course, a few, but it felt more like a gig from the 90s than the ‘gram-able’ culture often seen at so many live events in the modern day. I can’t be certain, but I’d like to think it was Fazerdaze’s performance, as well as her likeability both as an artist and a human being, that captivated a 2023 audience to the extent that they momentarily forgot about the shackles of their smartphones and, like dogs, lived in the moment, a moment – or series of moments – that were well-worth experiencing.
For more on Fazerdaze bead over to the Bandcamp page here.