In September, Naples, Fla., quartet Fake Problems quietly released Real Ghosts Caught on Tape, their third full-length record. While the band had displayed flashes of brilliance on their first two records, the quality of Ghosts came as a complete shock to me. From the very first listen, I knew this would be one of my favorite records of 2010. The growth the band displayed, both musically and lyrically, was nothing short of astounding. After about 1,000 repeat listens, the only question I had left was, "How will this record hold up in a live environment?" It turns out the answer was "pretty well," as I had the chance to discover on a late Tuesday night at Great Scott in Boston.
The show started with local acoustic act Jeff Rowe. If Rowe hadn't mentioned he lived only a stone's throw away from the venue, I never would have guessed he was joining the tour for this show only. He played a short set of great songs that seemed to appease the small crowd that had gathered around the front of the stage.
After Rowe thanked the crowd for listening, he made way for Georgia-based foursome Ninja Gun. If there has ever been a band whose name doesn't fit their music, I would have to say it's Ninja Gun. After quickly setting up their gear, they played a 35-minute set that mixed a small dose of alternative rock with a whole lot of country. In fact, it would be very easy to imagine "Front Yard Screamers (Kitchen Kissers)" as a smash hit on your local country station (which you probably don't listen to, considering you're reading this review).
After nearly every song, frontman Jonathan Cody would thank the audience, his southern drawl very noticeable, and then give a simple explanation of the next track. While the vocals may have been difficult to decipher at first, the band seemed to hit their stride by the middle of the set, and had at least some members of the crowd won over by the end of it.
Up next was the moment that everyone had been waiting for--sort of. As Fake Problems prepared to take the stage, many of the 100 or so fans who had made their way inside the venue were still huddled at the bar. It may have been the fact it was 11:40 P.M. on a bitterly cold Tuesday, but this crowd was the definition of laid-back, at least before the band started playing.
As lead singer Chris Farren and co. made their way to their mics, the crowd quickly filed to the front of the stage, and the band started the set off with a bang, playing "Done with Fun" from their most recent album. While this still wasn't the type of crowd that would do much singing or moving, I think everyone in attendance was taken aback by just how good the band sounded right off the bat.
While Farren may be small in stature, you would never guess it after hearing him sing. The frontman stole the show as the band ripped through "ADT," "RSVP" and "5678," all from their new record. While Ghosts may have been well-represented early in the set, the band didn't avoid older material (or songs with full words in the title, for that matter). In fact, "Don't Worry Baby" from 2009′s It's Great to Be Alive made an early appearance.
Aside from sounding great, the obvious chemistry that exists between band members was hard to miss. Farren skillfully traded vocals with bassist Derek Perry, while guitarist Casey Lee was excellent on lead guitar and even channeled his inner Will Smith while rapping 1999′s smash hit (not really) "Wild Wild West" in between songs.
"Born and Raised," from 2007′s How Far Our Bodies Go, finally had the crowd shouting along. At one point the floor was even shaking as a few enthusiastic observers bounced up and down. Fake Problems had done the seemingly impossible in waking this sleepy Boston crowd. After dusting off B-side "Heartless" and "My First Million" from 2006′s Bull/Matador EP, the band would end the set just as it had begun: with a pair of great Ghosts tracks.
The first would be the poignant "Ghost to Coast," followed by "Grand Finale." It was the perfect way to end the set, which had lasted only 40 minutes and had seemed to fly by much faster. Great Scott's small and intimate setting provided the perfect environment to see a band that is clearly on the way up. With their recent record, Fake Problems has a lot to live up to when it comes to live shows, and this one did not disappoint. Hopefully, it will be the type of night that those in attendance look back at and say "I saw them before they were big." I'll keep my fingers crossed.
Set list (not exact order):
- Done with Fun
- Don't Worry Baby
- Songs for Teenagers
- Heaven and Hell Coalition
- My First Million
- Born and Raised
- Ghost to Coast
- Grand Finale