Fritz Helder and The Phantoms at Mr. Black
Last Friday I went to Mr. Black to catch the NYC debut of the band I told you about called Fritz Helder and The Phantoms. they were every bit as wild ans carefree and funky and engaging and escapist as i thought they'd be! They're the kind of band that clearly doesn't take themselves too seriously while still being serious about making music. I'll admit immediately that the music aint for everybody, but then everybody aint for the music.
It's kinda hard not to be a cliche in 2009 when so many great artists have done so many great things over the years. I most definitely peeped some influences that were quite apparent in their look from early Prince to Andre 3000 and DeeLite. The music while rooted in pop, rock and electronica sounds of the past feels amazingly new and kept the mostly gay crowd moving. There were moments when the energy and crowd reaction ebbed and flowed a bit, but in NYC where it's hard to keep anyone focused on anything for more than a couple of minutes they did just fine.
I can't say if the band is gonna work for you, but I can say they worked for me and I think you should check them out as soon as you can. The party at Mr. Black was actually a lot of fun too featuring a very diverse crowd of gay men, straight women and people from around the world. There were great club beats, classic house and electronica on one dance floor and the other floor featured R&B and POP (you know how I love my Pop!!!!).
I would have taken pictures but a close friend and fellow blogger STILL HAS MY EFFING CAMERA. Adam...Adam...can you hear me? LOL
Fritz Helder & The Phantoms bring new meaning to the words pop couture. One listen to their debut disc, Greatest Hits: Platinum Edition, is like having an all-access pass to the fetes and front-rows of Paris, New York, Milan and London Fashion week. Threading together rich runway references, hip-hop-induced street cred and a multi-fierceited sound that blends electronic music’s past and future—the Toronto-born band is as rare as the vintage Yves Saint Laurent collections that inspire them.
Led by chameleon-like front-man Fritz Helder—a keytar wielding, contralto vocalist whose grandiose presence can only be described as fourth dimensional—the quartet’s energy is as tremendous in-studio as it is on-stage. For proof, take a listen to their debut disc’s jewel-in-crown track “Making A Scene”. During the song’s catchy first verse Fritz raps about “dancefloor beats rocking it hard” amongst a plethora of carefully-crafted synth riffs and an onslaught of wild cowbells. The track reflects Greatest Hits: Platinum Edition as whole, working listeners into a frenzy at every turn of note, all while Helder sensually sings about the clubland vision of “disco balls and leotards” surrounding him.
Speaking of vision, it’s no wonder pop queen Nelly Furtado and design legend Karl Lagerfeld are counted as Fritz Helder & The Phantoms fans. The group’s avante-garde image (think hi-fashion, high-gloss, and high concept) and connection to chicness and beauty can be comparable to Roxy Music’s glory days in the 70s or Grace Jones at her most raw and risqué. Take for instance the band’s exquisite first single “Lagerfeld Lady”, a tribute track recorded for their idol, the Kaiser of fashion himself. Laden with a funk-laden forté of slinky rhythms and Prince-worthy lyrics, the tune—which is accompanied by a slick video filmed in Paris—fits fabulously into underground DJ sets and party playlists as much as it does FM radiowaves.
Yet Fritz and his talented crew of merry men and woman—a troupe that includes the glamorous Pastel Supernova (vocals), the cunning Diego Superstar (beats / keys / vocals) and electric-guitar player and vocals, Silk Helder—aren’t about fitting in at all. Blending funk, disco, hip-hop, punk, ska, comedy and tragedy into their first album’s tracklist as well as mixing energetic choreography and envelope-pushing costume work into their live performances, the band breaks conventions effortlessly.
As songs such as “Work It” , “Sex Robot” and the Anna Wintour-worrying “You Ain’t Vogue” prove, the band’s stylish mission is to stand out, be heard and have fun while doing so. With so many groups ready-to-wear themselves out into the cookie cutter confines of safe, formulaic music, Fritz Helder & The Phantoms stand apart, producing an all-style, all-substance brand of pop couture that will undoubtedly be making a scene for years to come.
Release Date: Fritz Helder & The Phantoms *Greatest Hits: Platinum Edition” (Nelstar Music) July 7, 2009