Back You are here: Home Reviews Live Review: Cody ChesnuTT, Cheap Fakes, MKO @ The Hifi Brisbane 20.10.13

Live Review: Cody ChesnuTT, Cheap Fakes, MKO @ The Hifi Brisbane 20.10.13

Cody ChesnuTT

Sunday night was a time for grooving. Winding down the weekend to some soulful contemplation and whimsical good times, American Neo-Soul legend Cody ChestnuTT took to The Hifi’s stage delivering, really, one of the most inspired and original sets as he and his three man bands played away delivering anything from soul to funk to hip hop.

Beginning the nights proceedings Brisbane based, the electrifying MKO, who for all intents and purposes seemed a little out of place in supporting Cody ChestnuTT. MKO were in their own right good – delivering haunting synthesized melodies overdubbed with outrageously addictive harmonies as well as one of the best singing voices in Brisbane. The band played with vigor and howled with esteemed passion for their Bjork meets The Knife meets Portishead sound. 


MKO, Photo: Dean Swindell

 The problem was however the music was so vastly different than the headlining act and when MKO took to the stage it was a little shocking to fathom. To the unsuspecting and disgruntled audience member eagerly awaiting the soulful and funky tunes of headliner Cody Chestnutt, MKO represented little more than electronic dribble lacking any redeeming creativity. It by no means helped dissolve this notion that the band also suffered rocky starts with poor mixing and the sound generally taking a few tracks to strike the balance required of such delicate music.

 It was very much an up hill struggle for the Brisbane synth group, but despite consistent flaws the persistence was admirable and ultimately paid off. Yes it took a while for the leaky motor to get running but once it did it was a well-oiled machine. Getting past the hurdles of crowd anticipation and expectation, MKO established themselves as a perfectly capable electronic act that well and truly grew on you as their set progressed. Original conceptions of the band dwindled as it became obvious that MKO are more than capable of producing some truly unique almost new age bebop, 50s swing music within an electronic format. MKO was unexpected but it wasn’t unpleasant. It took a little way to gauge but once beyond those barriers there lived a pretty substantial band that at the very least kept you intrigued.


Cheap Fakes, Photo: Dean Swindell

Coming to the stage next was Brisbane’s super funky, mouth wateringly groovy, ultra classy Cheap Fakes, who would ultimately come out to be the high light of the show. All it took was the synchronized melody of a couple of horns, the gradual build up of some super stylized drums and the skanking reggae fueled guitar riffs within the bands first minute to understand what Cheap Fakes are all about: Playing the funkiest music in Brisbane and doing a damn fine job of it.

Cheap Fakes were one of those rare occasions, those unique performances where even if the band were playing a terrible genre of music you’re still suspended in awe because of the sheer talent with which they play. Fortunately though, Cheap Fakes play an excellent genre of music with a profound and utterly obsessive devotion to professionalism and getting the audience shaking their tail feathers. They were exemplary, the sort of band you might not go out of your way to see but are a tremendously pleasant surprise. Cheap Fakes in their own right were a funk band pure and simple who adhered to the same qualities that made the genres legends – Average White Band, James Brown, Kool and The Gang et cetera – so successful. Their music struck a perfect synchronized balance and with crystal delivery Cheap Fakes painted a permanent smile on the face of an entire audience. What made Cheap Fakes distinctive though were subtle touches and incorporations of other genres with the occasional surf rock inspired riff or reggae drum beat. The beauty was that it worked; these little tweaks didn’t disrupt the overall funk feel of their sound and instead complimented the music being played. 

Cheap Fakes set the bar high for headlining Cody ChestnuTT. The band from set beginnings to finales knew exactly what they were doing, what they wanted to achieve and how to do it and performing their super fun and super engrossing funk inspired sound Cheap Fakes defined themselves as one of the best live acts seen this year.

Cody ChesnuTT

Cody ChesnuTT, Photo: Dean Swindell

Anyone who knows Cody ChestnuTT and what he is about know that the man is being defined by passion and dedication. Howling lyrics of pure emotion on topics of love, justice and freedom the man considers himself not so much a musician as he considers himself a medium through which the natural and organic elements of music are combined and channeled. To Cody, playing music is a release, an addictive experience that demands raw energy and enthusiasm. These may seem like outlandish claims to the skeptic in us all but after seeing live performance on Sunday night; it’s hard to debate such bold claims.

Helmet wearing Cody ChestnuTT and his stellar four-piece band played what really is best described as a variety show. The music was varied, coming with the territory of allowing the music to be played it wants to be played and flowing with the sound produced. With that in mind though, there was clearly an underlying soulful foundation to Cody’s music. The experience was light and playful and had a somewhat charming quality to it.

Pictures: Cody ChesnuTT, Cheap Fakes, MKO live at the Hi-Fi Brisbane

Cody ChesnuTT

Cody ChesnuTT, Photo: Dean Swindell

Despite only having four of his original ten-piece band along with him for his Australian tour, nothing felt missing from the music played, grasping inspiration from all avenues with tips of the helmet towards Aretha Franklin, The Beastie Boys, The Roots (of course). It was a different show to his recorded and demanded different requirements that were filled seamlessly by some of the best musicians coming out of America. While his records devote ample consideration to intricacies and the devil in the details, Cody’s live show was a much more organic performance combining the best of what each member had to bring to the table and illustrating a synchronicity that spawns from what really can only be defined as a playful and care free air for performing their unique blend of soul, R n B, gospel and everything in between. Watching Cody and his band is like watching a group of great friends jamming together, there’s no pressure, and it’s light and carefree but still remarkably tight in its administration.

For as harmlessly engaging and addictive as Cody was with his apparent swagger, an after glow of the Cheap Fakes stellar performance loomed over the headliners set. Cody ChestnuTT was great, he had energy, a great sound, a great band, but in light of one of the most surprising and incredibly inspired performances by Cheap Fakes, headlining soul singer Cody just simply couldn’t get beyond this.

Cody ChesnuTT

Cody ChesnuTT, Photo: Dean Swindell

This was one of the best shows to be seen in a long time in Brisbane. No doubt about it. Rough starts with MKO eventually led to smooth sailings. Cheap Fakes came out of left field and with shameless confidence tore the house down. Cody was everything you wanted. No more, no less. For better or worse. Sunday night is going to be a tough one to beat in coming weeks. It was a night defined by some of the best musicians around performing some of the most undeniable accessible and catchy music that tugged at your heart strings and got your body moving.  



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