Rough Trade, London
Our evening begins with a failed attempt at bribery, by way of a non-existent Tiramisu, meant for (we found out afterwards) a lactose intolerant gate keeper. Perhaps you might be wondering what event would be worth a tentative homicide? The Fauns album release gig at Rough Trade East. Fortunately, this botched venture to gain access earned us good fortune as our intentions were seen as virtuous, rather than a haphazard poisoning, and in we went.
With the lights down low (off) and the wheelie bins full of musical artefacts pushed out of the way, the trade floor lends itself well to the performance and really opens up. Muted warm trace lighting splashes shapeless shadows across walls and pillars strewn by graffiti and autographs. Backlit forms congregate loosely against the metal barricades propped against the stage in anticipation. A few moments later a four-piece collective materialises before us after a decade’s hiatus.
The Fauns, are a Bristol based shoegaze ensemble, formed in 2007 self-releasing their eopnymous debut album in 2009, followed by Lights in 2013. The success of the first two albums, and an ever-growing fan base of the genre, led to a lengthy stint of touring. Seemingly just as soon as they appeared, they’d just as suddenly vanish mysteriously. Michael Savage, founding member and bassist, laments on their absence and process composing How Lost, their third LP.
"We were determined not to tread familiar ground with the third album. We consciously chose to veer away from shoegaze conventions, infusing our music with elements of electro and disco. It's been a delicate balancing act, but we think it works nicely. Moreover, the album marks a shift in lyrical themes and attitude. Poignant tracks coexist with narratives of vodka-infused nights in dimly lit clubs, reflecting a departure from introspection. "This album is less about the melancholy associated with the genre and more about getting our audience dancing.”
Back at Rough Trade East the fauns set starts off with ‘Rise’ from their second album, Lights. It’s a wavy start that sets the tone for the ambience they’ll build throughout their set. Although Michael mentions wanting to get their audience dancing with their new material it does not appear to be happening this evening. Set against a backdrop of utilitarian men, Alison Garner’s hushed vocals are swallowed up by the accompanying instruments to our disappointment. The performance is a sombre one and any anxiety that might be felt on an album release day, or a first performance after a decade, is unnoticeable. There are no technical difficulties, nervous audience engagement, they are a professional troupe. Each song transitions seamlessly into the other with the exception of ‘With You’ off Lights, and ‘Spacewreck’ off How Lost, as our standout set favourites. The set came to a close in a demure manner after ‘Spacewreck’ with each member peeling off stage following Alison’s lead. The left as candidly as they’d appeared but our hopes are this won’t be the last time in a decade, we’ll hear from them. How Lost is out now and you can expect tour dates to follow soon.