Mister F and Fikus Electrified Red Square on May 4th

The boys of Timbre Coup always bring a large crowd whenever they play Albany venues, and building off that following has led to a great reception for Mister F, the new project/collaboration of Ben Pickering, Andrew Chamberlaine and Matt Pickering of Timbre Coup and Scott Hannay of Capital Zen. They brought Fikus to Albany on May 4 at Red Square.

It was a pleasant surprise to see that a band as collaborative in nature took on a new life outside of both respective bands. All members brought such a high level of talent and energy that it would be seriously difficult to go wrong with this mash up. Although there certainly exist hints of both Timbre Coup and Capital Zen, it was a completely different show and a completely different experience. This is clearly not just a side project for any of the boys, but instead an opportunity to try something outside of what we are all so accustomed to in Albany.

Scott Hannay on the keys brought an electro feel to the organics of the bass and guitar. It is a perfect mix of organic and synthetic, man and machine. One of the highlights of the night was when Matt abruptly yelled into his microphone “Well, obviously we have a rapist in Lincoln Park,” in which the band responded which a hilarious rendition of Antoin Dobson’s “Hide Ya Kids, Hide Ya Wife.” I was truly unaware that you could actually turn such a ridiculous YouTube sensation into a well composed song. As always, Matt did not cease to impress on the drums with his fast paced beats; the rest of the band followed in step to create phenomenal jams.

Although some of their past work has been faster paced with ripping guitar solos, it seemed they all shared the stage in an equilibrium within each jam. The experience was absolutely different than any band on the scene. There is certainly no single genre that Mister F would fall under, as they clearly have made it an art of incorporating all talents and reaches of music to compose hardwired songs that will keep you dancing from start to end. Each individual is so passionate about the music they create that each song reaches new highs and lows in every measure. You can catch Mister F at Upstate Spring Revival May 10-11, Strawberry Jam May 19th, Disc Jam June 14th, and The Big Up Music festival August 8-10th.

Setlist: Deal Breaker, 11, Everything You Say, Bed Intruder> Vocoder, Busters Revenge, Hedgehog> J> Hedgehog, Canned Heat, Jump the Shark . Download the show from Archive.org

Fikus, a Bergen County, New Jersey based band headlined the night, and although they were named after an obscure Phish song, their show rivaled Mister F’s set. For a nonstop 90 minutes, Fikus played a tremendous selection of songs, ranging across the prog-rock and electronic spectrum. The quintet produced incredible dance numbers, such as “Latin” that had a  distinct Latin-flair to it, before getting spacey in a Brian Eno-style of ambient jamming, before returning into a Moog-heavy shred fest, grinding through the jam and coming out the other side with an audience ecstatic at this distinct sound emanating from the confines of Red Square.

Jams were stretched out from a prog-rock base that grew and developed into even deeper cuts, ala “Jim Jones”, as Fikus’ own plane of progressive jamming melded into “Nightwalker”. The audience were headbanging as the band cranked out fully synced rock that, bringing them into a wholly new section of improve with a distinct 80’s flair. “Cool Refrigerator” turned the tempo down as Pete Kozak sang acapella as Jon Schmarak provided a piano interlude, before the full band joined in for yet another slamming number that swayed the dancefloor, populated with a solid crowd of late-night revelers intent on bringing Cinco de Mayo in with cheers for mas y mas.  The swinging encore “Tempest” elevated the crowd past 2 a.m., building the anticipation for another return to Upstate New York later this summer, if not sooner.

Tequila shots were requested and enjoyed during the night, making this twin-bill of fantastic improv-heavy bands a perfect highlight for the warm nights ahead this summer.

Setlist: Somethin’ Stanky > Latin, Jim Jones > Nightwalker > Dingo , Cool Refrigerator

Encore: Tempest in a Teapot

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