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Gig Review: Fazerdaze at Mt Albert War Memorial Hall

Morning Glory host Molly and new bFM volunteer Calum ventured over to Mount Albert last Thursday night to catch the sold-out Fazerdaze show for Elemental Nights

Photographs by Calum Dewsnap
Words by Molly McLennan

It wasn't until Calum and I finally located each other in the crowd and had a quick debrief of the show so far, I realised it had been six years since I last saw Amelia Murray - aka Fazerdaze - at Laneway 2017. Unfortunately for me that Laneway coincided with the peak of my student partying days so I have no recollection of her performance on the main stage that year. Luckily for me, this show more than made up for the gaps in my memory! As soon as Murray began her set I was hit with a big dose of nostalgia. 

Being transported back to the party-filled summers of pre-covid was a welcome reprieve from the bitterly cold night last Thursday. The venue even had next-level heat pumps to fend off the wintery chill outside (shoutout to Mt Albert War Memorial Hall). Whilst the dramatically lit hall looked formal from across Rocket Park, the atmosphere inside was casual and cosy (those heat pumps were huge). The crowd sat on the stairs, leaned against walls, and I spotted quite a few eager teenagers accompanied by equally excited parents.

A last-minute change meant that the "very handsome songwriter" from Ōtautahi, Tom Lark, opened the show. Shannon Fowler released their debut album Brave Star in June this year, ending a long hiatus from music. For anyone who is a fan of sci-fi and spaghetti westerns - check out Tom Lark. I overheard one person in line for the bar ask a mate if Lark was Kurt Vile, and I can see that. Listening to newer material live, Fowler's sound reminded me of too of Andy Shauf's concept album - The Party

Prior to Fazerdaze taking the stage, I was stoked to see a cathode ray tube monitor being wheeled to stage left. I have a nerdy love for CRT monitors, and it transformed the stage from school hall vibes into a snapshot of a living room from two decades ago. 

"This show is actually a Bumble date!" 

Speaking of the CRT monitor - with two songs to go, Murray thanked a friend in the crowd that she'd met on Bumble for organising the TV display. Charming in an awkward and introverted way, the crowd was mesmerised by Murray as a performer and in-between songs. With the exception of ambient gigs, Fazerdaze may be one of the quietest shows I've experienced. The crowd maintained a polite boogie from when Murray strummed the opening to Break! and until the last note in Winter

Released last year, Break! is an energetic and fun album, without sacrificing the emotional exploration characteristic of Fazerdaze. Although I expected the show to be 'solo and unplugged', I was stoked that Murray made use of plenty of pedals and was accompanied by the drum machine tracks used on the new album.

To be honest, I am not sure I really know what solo and unplugged means - but if it doesn't exclude using fuzz pedals - I am a fan. This was especially welcome for Overthink It, the seventh song in the set. It is a dancey yet anxious number, reminding me of moments when you don't know whether to laugh or cry. As a funny aside, Murray noted that when it came to recording Overthink It for the album, she overthought the process and annoyed some fans on SoundCloud who preferred the demo. And there must be a treasure trove of Fazerdaze demos and unreleased tracks. Throughout the night Murray played newer material, tracks from Break!, as well as fun throwbacks from Morningside and the Fazerdaze EP

The unreleased song that followed Overthink It was my highlight of the night - and perhaps my favourite Fazerdaze track yet. Beginning with ambient pads, the track also featured hypnotically looped vocals and guitar. The vocals sounded similar to Grouper and the guitar to NZ artist Cryer. 

Midway through the show, I thought that the acoustics in the venue were a little funky. At times the sound was muddied and I wanted to hear Amelia's vocals more clearly. But by the time Flood Into started, the sound improved without compromising on spacey reverb. Flood Into was another favourite for the night, with the live performance sounding more melancholic than the recorded version. 

For the second to last track, the Fazerdaze band joined Murray on stage. Murray's latest album is best enjoyed with friends, and I'm glad the band were part of the solo show! Although Carla (keyboardist) was not onstage, the cute synth at the intro of the song and also the keys in Winter, which followed, reminded me a little of Kinnie by cc(tv). The peak nostalgia moment of the night was hearing Jennifer performed live. It took me back to sunbathing on the roof of my Wellington flat in my first year of uni - and sounded just as good today as it did then.

Ngā mihi to Elemental Nights for the fantastic midweek gig at a cool spot, and to Fazerdaze and Tom Lark for the lovely show. Keep an eye out for the unreleased track! If it is an indicator of the direction Murray is taking in the future, we'll be cry-dancing to Fazerdaze alone in our rooms sometime soon. 


✩ Tom Lark's triumphant fist pumps and return to releasing music.
✩ Heat pumps
✩ The friend group that started an interpretive dance circle in between sets
✩ Slow dancing couples 
✩ CRT Monitors 
✩ SoundCloud shout out 

Fazerdaze inspired playlist to study, chill and cry to: