Facing New York, from Berkeley, in Los Angeles

For a band whose name describes their striving to reach beyond the bounds of the local Bay Area music scene, Facing New York has done pretty well for themselves. In addition to numerous support slots throughout the country for bands like Cursive and Coheed and Cambria, their unique brand of progressive and post-rock has brought them as far as Japan to tour with Eastern Youth in 2006 and across all of Europe with RX Bandits in 2007.

On April 18th, the Bay Area boys were a little closer to home (376.9 miles from home, give or take) as they played at the Troubadour in Hollywood along with Los Angeles brethren The Outline and veterans of the KSCR concert series, Division Day. This was guitarist (also on Rhodes and vox) Matt Fazzi’s last Southern California show as a member of Facing New York.

The band, also comprised of lead vocalist Eric Frederic on keys and guitar, bassist Brandon Canchola and drummer Omar Cuellar, announced just weeks ago that Fazzi was leaving Facing New York and would be playing his last shows in Los Angeles and San Francisco. His reasons for leaving, though not fully disclosed, relate to an opportunity that recently presented itself to Fazzi, which “he’d be a damn fool to pass up.” FNY has assured fans that they are parting ways cordially and these shows would not be Fazzi’s last time on stage with them. This is not the first time fans or members of Facing New York have seen a founding member leave. Just two years ago, Rene Carranza went back to school at UC Berkeley, leaving Fazzi and Frederic to fill in on keys, and leaving Facing New York as a four-piece. Carranza joined his former band mates for the encore of Fazzi’s last show, in San Francisco the night following their Hollywood show.

Now as a three-piece, the band plans to begin recording in May, for their upcoming album – the first since their self-titled full-length release in 2005. As the band’s lineup and influences have fluctuated through the years, the next album promises to reflect the evolution of Facing New York and present new sounds and structures which they’ve been eager to share with their fans - and did so that night at the Troubadour.

Facing New York opened the show humbly with Frederic explaining, “We usually don’t do big intros.” Instead, they let the music speak for itself, beginning with syncopated hand-clapping and their signature duet of dueling drum kits as they introduced their fans to “All a This,” a song which they’d not yet played live and just recently debuted the demo of on their Myspace page. Similarly, I won’t say much more about the song or their performance of it and let the live footage speak for itself. I should warn you, however, that the video has the slight potential to cause nausea as well as seizures. You have YouTube user mojoerose and the fine lighting technicians at the Troubadour to thank for that. But for those not particularly sensitive to light or motion, click play and enjoy.

Another highlight was fan (yours truly included) favorite, “Full Turn,” which had the audience hanging on every beat, note, and riff. For much of the song the audience stood still, wide-eyed and open-jawed, anticipating parts of the song they knew so well, yet sounded and felt like a new experience live. And the rest of the time? Well, they rocked the hell out, of course.

Facing New York returns to Los Angeles on May 20th opening for Subtle at the Knitting Factory, before their US tour with RX Bandits and Portugal the Man.

Meanwhile, you can catch Eric Frederic's solo side project, Wallpaper. fresh from Coachella and playing gigs EVERY night this week all over Los Angeles, at hipster faves Check Yo' Ponytail and Club Moscow among others.

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