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Fink-ing and Drinking

2008-10-15 07:48
Fink live at The Assembly: October 11 2008

Assembly hosted Brighton (UK) boys Fink on Saturday night, with Cabins in the Forest on support. A Cape Town mix of indie fans and trendsetter types showed up to gorge themselves on sincerity. It was hard to believe this was the same club of a couple of weeks back, when it was heaving with glazed-eyed Fokofpolisiekar fans filled to puking point with beer and Jagermeister.

Last-minute addition to the line-up Forgotten Superhero (two members of Captain Stu discovering their inner hippie) were a sweet surprise. They put out with mostly-original singer-songwriter stuff and the odd wise-crack. Sure, they could do with less strumming, more plucking, and maybe a double bassist. But it's early days, and there's a big Van Der Want & Letcher-shaped gap in the spectrum that FS could fill with something less marvelously maudlin. Meanwhile, they're playing a Sunday pm residency at a the Purple Onion restaurant, in Plumstead - a suburb that's always been an under-credited incubation tank for English Cape Town's struggling talents.

I've always had a problem with Cabins in a Forest. Nothing personal! I just hate... no... I loathe... their name. Back in March, their Splashy Fen set made me wish I'd chosen another tent for lunch. A friend gently pointed out that good available band names are in short supply, but I still went into the gig expecting to spend their set gritting my teeth. Instead I was forced to forgive them and hear on the second swing-by how good they are. Now they're a reason to give any band a second chance. Think Radiohead harmonies soaked in ritualistic LSD. The snaky texture that emerged from two differently beautiful vocalists fusing live blew the room away. And yes, chicks dig the cute digeridoo player. Who'd say no to circular breathing and great embouchure?
And the main act? Fink was awesome. Canny, witty and touching, he does everything a real singer-songwriter should, never sinking into pub-band dudism. From the opening title track of his 2006 album Biscuits for Breakfast, a "will I ever arrive?" road song, he had everyone rapt to his words.

The genius of his songwriting is in the details - the unexpected expressive melodic turns, the eyebrow raised with a smile at life's insanities, and the extra string on the bass guitar. More than once I found myself thinking "Yes, that's exactly how it felt. Exactly. How the hell does he know?"

A forest of hands held up cell phones and cameras, shakily saving the moment forever. Watch a front row Fink cell-cam song, or post your videos here.

When one song came to a close. The audience clapped and sighed and cheered.
"It's an emotional rollercoaster," said Fin, all laconic folk 'n roll.
From within the chuckling crowd came a lonesome "Wooooooooooo!"
"Especially for that guy," teased bassist Guy Whittaker, releasing a wave of warm laughter from the room.

A few songs and an ironic encore later - "We never prepare those songs, so enjoy the rehearsed stuff while you can!" - 2am felt like the beginning of the night. But soon workers appeared to sweep up stompies and beer bottles, together with those of us still standing around listening to the DJ and trying to pretend it wasn't really over.

- Jean Barker
Jumping around in a club spilling beer all over people is often fun, but if you really want to listen to music, hear the words and feel the feelings, it's usually better to go acoustic. Something about the worshipful candle light and the listeners absorbing wisdom just makes magic.

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