Gapers Block has ceased publication.

Gapers Block published from April 22, 2003 to Jan. 1, 2016. The site will remain up in archive form. Please visit Third Coast Review, a new site by several GB alumni.
 Thank you for your readership and contributions. 


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Review Thu Apr 08 2010

Review: Fanfarlo @ Lincoln Hall, 4/7

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Simon Balthazar of Fanfarlo (photos by Kirstie Shanley).

The crowd at Lincoln Hall last night was respectful and mellow even though it was a sold-out show that filled the floor and spilled up into the balcony. There were the standard ranges of mid-week concert-goer: the dude in a tweed jacket, the really tall guy who always stands in front of you, the superfans, the pretty pretties, and the guy who doesn't know what to expect because his roommate dragged him there at the last minute with little to no warning. What held everyone together like some delicious, sticky goo was the collective sigh of happiness that washes over a listener of the lovely ensemble work of Fanfarlo.

gapers Lawrence of Arabia 300.jpg Opener Lawrence Arabia (aka James Milne, pictured, right), touring with backing band The Prime Ministers (also from New Zealand with delicious accents), will be with Fanfarlo for the rest of their U.S. tour and I couldn't imagine a more agreeable pairing. Charming songs like "Apple Pie Bed" were made even more pleasant by the band's Fleet Foxes-like harmonies, their shaggy haircuts (all seemingly cut from the same haircut cloth) and their youthful exuberance over the occasional gush from an on-stage fog machine (during the song "I've Smoked Too Much," naturally). The bass player's mouth-gaping grin was the same as a kid on Christmas morning. I can only imagine the hijinx on the tour bus.

Fanfarlo hit the stage with seemingly well-studied wardrobe styling — all pastels and cream colors. They blended a kind of turn of the century/steampunk aesthetic that honestly was just playful enough. (Trousers tucked into lime green socks? Ok! Suspenders and highwaters? Why not?) They're just innocent enough to get away with anything they like.

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Cathy Lucas of Fanfarlo (photo by Kirstie Shanley).

The band went through most of their new album Reservoir including the beautiful "I'm a Pilot" and "The Walls Are Coming Down." I was so enchanted by their harmonizing, and their sincerity in performance. There's a definite energy in Fanfarlo's playing reminiscent of Arcade Fire's ensemble-heavy shows. You can feel the anguish in lyrics like flashbulbs of memory in the dark. "Fire Escape" ruminates with regret: "On the fire escape / I think I slipped, I think I fell / But you're still midway / It's not too late to just turn back." Fanfarlo's chemistry on stage was great to witness, especially as they switched instruments, handing mandolin from hands to hands, trading keys for floor tom, guitar for clarinet. They paced the evening wonderfully, leading most shocked at how fast the hour-long set went by, especially the small group of trumpet superfans who screamed the loudest for member Leon Beckenham every time he picked up his horn. Cathy Lucas was also a favorite (not just because her brother and sister were in the audience) with her talented fiddling, and beautiful stage presence with the spotlit floor tom. And lead singer Simon Balthazar was utterly refreshing with his heady troubadour delivery and boyish charm. I sense the whole group has a calm about them that's unusual in a rock band. It was a perfect act to catch in the spring (even if it was nearly freezing outside). They rode in on their own warm breeze, and I think they fueled us well for the rest of the night.

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Leon Beckenham of Fanfarlo (photo by Kirstie Shanley).

If you want more Fanfarlo, you can download a live EP from their website. Also, keep an eye out for their special 7" which includes a cover of the Fleedwood Mac song "What Makes You Think You're The One" and Fanfarlo single "You Are One" and which releases for Record Store Day on April 17th.

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Feature Thu Dec 31 2015

Our Final Transmission Days

By The Gapers Block Transmission Staff

Transmission staffers share their most cherished memories and moments while writing for Gapers Block.

Read this feature »


  Chicago Music Media

Alarm Magazine
Big Rock Candy Mountain
Boxx Magazine
Brooklyn Vegan Chicago
Can You See The Sunset From The Southside
Chicago Reader Music
Chicagoist Arts & Events
Chicago Music Guide
Chicago Singles Club
Country Music Chicago
Cream Team
Dark Jive
The Deli Chicago
Jim DeRogatis
Fake Shore Drive
Gowhere Hip Hop
The Hood Internet
Jaded in Chicago
Largehearted Boy
Little White Earbuds
Live Fix Blog
Live Music Blog
Loud Loop Press
Oh My Rockness
Pop 'stache
Pop Matters
Resident Advisor
Sound Opinions
Sun-Times Music Blog
Theft Liable to Prosecution
Tribune Music
UR Chicago
Victim Of Time
WFMU's Beware of the Blog
Windy City Rock


Abbey Pub
Andy's Jazz Club
Aragon Ballroom
Auditorium Theatre
Beat Kitchen
Bottom Lounge
Buddy Guy's Legends
The Burlington
California Clipper
Concord Music Hall
Congress Theater
Cubby Bear
Double Door
Elbo Room
Empty Bottle
Green Mill
The Hideout
Honky Tonk BBQ
House of Blues
Kingston Mines
Lincoln Hall
Logan Square Auditorium
Mayne Stage
The Mutiny
Old Town School of Folk Music
Park West
The Promontory
Red Line Tap
Reggie's Rock Club & Music Joint
The Riviera
Thalia Hall
The Shrine
Symphony Center
Tonic Room
Uncommon Ground
The Vic
The Whistler

  Labels, Promoters
  & Shops:

Alligator Records
Beverly Records
Bloodshot Records
Dave's Records
Delmark Records
Drag City
Dusty Groove
Flameshovel Records
Groove Distribution
He Who Corrupts
Jam Productions
Jazz Record Mart
Kranky Records
Laurie's Planet of Sound
Minty Fresh
Numero Group
mP Shows
Permanent Records
Reckless Records
Smog Veil Records
Southport & Northport Records
Thick Records
Thrill Jockey Records Touch & Go/Quarterstick Records
Victory Records

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Transmission is the music section of Gapers Block. It aims to highlight Chicago music in its many varied forms, as well as cover touring acts performing in the city. More...
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