Fear of Men at Swedish American Hall

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Last Friday, I had the pleasure of checking out Brighton-based Fear Of Men at the Swedish American Hall in S.F.

After hearing some of their tracks online, I was excited to see them live and to sort out for myself what their music was all about. I also found myself thinking quite a bit about the name: it kind of reminded me of the sign from Daniel Quinn’s Ishmael. “Fear of Men”, I thought, “is that someone being afraid of men, or is it the Fear that men hold in their hearts? OR IS IT ONE AND THE SAME?!” What a trip.

By the time they took the stage, the crowd was relatively packed in. The band began their set with a mysterious musical fragment: something warm and reverberant that sounded all at once strange and familiar. This small offering served as the perfect introduction to their set.

Analytically speaking, most of their chord progressions are in the wheelhouse of the major and minor pentatonic scales. They do not venture very far from this area. So what we are left with is a set that sonically, has a similar theme. Now, with a less creative band, we would have a set of songs that sound entirely the same and verge upon boring. However, due to the creativity and spirit of the band, we can safely say that this is their sound. I liken it to an artist that has a specific palate of colors that they choose from, and their creativity lies in the implementation of these colors as a vehicle for their expression.

On several tunes, lead singer Jess Weiss fills out the orchestration by playing rhythm guitar. However, I was much more enraptured with the tunes where she rested it back upon its stand: draping the microphone chord around her neck, she became enveloped in the music, weaving a cathartic and poetic tapestry over the rhythms and chords. If I had to sum up Fear of Men in one word it would be conviction. Throughout the entireset, the band members swing and sway along with the rhythm of their tracks, creating a wave that carries out into the audience and the hall.

 

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Matthew DePasquale

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