KEXP Live at Iceland Airwaves 2017, Day 3: Fai Baba

Photos by Jim Bennett

Next on the broadcast live from Kex Hostel at Iceland Airwaves was the genre-bending psych-pop/blues/avant-garde band Fai Baba. Based in Zurich, Fai Baba is the solo project of Fabian Sigmund, accompanied by a varied lineup of musicians over the years. Fai Baba began about 10 years ago, after Fabian returned from extensive travel through India (the name is based on that of noted Indian spiritual leader Sai Baba). It was first a solo project, but he collaborated with other musicians as he went back and forth between Zurich and New York. He’s attracted to the raw minimalism of blues, taking that philosophy and applying it to his own brand of psychedelia. Last year’s full-length record Sad and Horny (A Tree In A Field) is sunny, raw, and fuzzy in a way that nods to the likes of Ty Segall and Mikal Cronin, sounding more at home under the shadow of California palm trees than the Swiss alps.

They opened their blistering set with “Hold Me Tight,” a trippy, bassy number with a bass line like a rolling train. His set was punctuated with long, distorted musical interludes that felt jam-ey, but not gratuitously so. Though he’s only been playing with his current band for less than a year, they’re so tuned in with one another that it feels like they’ve been playing together forever. At times it felt more like a psychedelic orchestra, with each piece having multiple distinct movements, the audience was enthralled, but nobody seemed quite sure when they were supposed to clap. A great live act, their sound is polished without sounding canned, all while maintaining a spontaneous feel. “Golden Fire” and “Why Do I Feel So Alone” were warm and sunny, making us feel like we were on a little summer vacation in November. Absolutely one of the stand-out sets of the broadcast so far, the crowd couldn’t get enough, raining cheers and applause on Fai Baba as they left the stage.

 

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