By DONNA BALANCIA
We never considered seeing Fartbarf for the last few years, mainly because of the name of the band. Too sophomoric. After all, could a band named Fartbarf actually have any redeeming value in the music world?
The answer is an astounding and resounding affirmative.
There are lessons here. Never judge a band by its name, no matter how ridiculous it might be.
First-time Fartbarf show-goers are in for a wild surprise of excellent proportions. Instead of a bunch of goofy neophytes, what we discovered instead was a sophisticated synthesizer-utilizing trio of top notch guys — we think — who clearly have found a niche in the world of recycled synth. It is extremely satisfying that this young band appreciates the value of the Moog and the vintage analog sythesizers that played an important role in so many influential bands, including Emerson Lake and Palmer, Yes, and DEVO and the slew of 1980s bands that would follow.
But Fartbarf puts its own modern spin on what would normally be pretty cool songs, and takes their work to a galaxy far far away.
It’s apparent that Fartbarf has taken a page out of the Residents’ book. But Fartbarf not only does not sound anything like The Residents, but does them one better in the “mystery” department — in addition to covering their identities with masks, their voices are rendered unidentifiable courtesy of cool Moog enhancements.
The Fartbarf songs get the crowd jumping, as at El Cid there were only two people we could see who were standing without tapping their feet or nodding their heads. The bulk of the crowd was semi-moshing, jumping around, and doing some very unusual and retroactively disposed of dance moves, including The Robot.
The Neanderthal masks and imitation NASA jumpsuits — heaven forbid NASA’s famous “Meatball” logo should be used in such a facetious manner — give pause for thought. What is Fartbarf’s statement and are they trying to give us a warning? Has man advanced despite his earthly and regressive ignorance? Are we as a culture doomed unless we explore other worlds? Are the guys under the masks cute?
Only the excellent, dentally challenged post-Neanderthal musicians known as Josh, Dave and Brian know those answers.
In the meantime, the fans — many of whom have been with the band since before the band’s debut 2014 album, Dirty Power, were having a blast. Of course some of the favorites off Dirty Power were played including our new favorite “All Systems Go.”
“I’ve seen them at least five times and El Cid is the best place to see them,” said one concert-goer with his girlfriend. “I don’t know if there are any philosophical statements or questions for us to think about. I think they’re just fun.”
It’s so great to see the Moog being used so well. You’re not hammered over the head with the classic analog instrument. But it’s clear Fartbarf deserves a page on the Moog website for most innovative use of the company’s prized invention.
The best part about Fartbarf — costumes and marketing ploys aside — is the music. The band takes some cool sounds from the 1970s and catapults them forward to capture the love of both the millennial and pre-millennial demographics.
The connecting link between the three bands at El Cid Friday night was that they each gave a nod to synthesizer and keyboard sound.
David and The Curse preceded Fartbarf. Kyle Hamood, known for his keyboard and synth sound with several bands, most notably Them Guns, sits in with David and brings his talent across the tracks to true rock and roll.
While seemingly a disparate matching, David and The Curse, a rock and roll band with a punk edge, certainly stood out, as lead singer David Stucken brought his best show to date to El Cid.
“I’ve been watching David’s career and he’s been in a few bands, but this band is excellent,” said one concert-goer. “He’s a great performer and he’s a really nice guy. You should talk to him.”
CaliforniaRocker.com did talk to David, last week. Read the interview here
And he truly is a nice guy with big aspirations. There’s the sense with David that there’s nothing this rocker can’t play. David’s enthusiastic and it’s obvious he loves what he does.
As for the opener, Tres, it’s an interesting band with a great sense of humor comprised of three fun people who admit their music may not be to everyone’s taste. But the point is, they’re trying, they’re up there, and the sound may be unusual but it’s fun. And that’s the only answer we need.