Dressed in a two piece matching outfit resembling a 1970s contemporary art painting, what appeared to be the ghost of David Bowie walked by the barstools. Although it was just Elliot Arndt, one half of the fraternal duo Faux Real, the passion, charisma and onstage personas of the brothers brought the spirit of the late pop icon to life.
French-Americans Elliot and Virgile Arndt, known as Faux Real, performed at a bar a little bigger than a dorm room, Chess Club, on Wednesday during SXSW. Before the pair's 34 minute 10 p.m. set, the bar was fairly empty for Flora & Fawna and Medusa, who both set the stage nicely for those that followed. As 9:40 p.m. rolled around, the bar started to fill up, the buzz of what was about to unfold filling the room with anticipation.
If there was ever a worry about what performance art was, this group has set a clear definition: a straddled line between 80s synth-pop and anti-rock, matching outfits, captivating dance routines, and strong red stage lighting. The Arndt brothers utilized every part of the venue: dancing in the windows, strutting in the crowd that had parted like the Red Sea, singing in the street in front of the venue to ensnare the attention of the audience. They were successful, the room full of fans enthralled by the dynamic duo.
To compliment their rich, sultry vocals, the avant garde pop musicians only had one instrument on stage: a flute. Although on the surface, it would seem that this is an unconventional choice for a pop group’s primary instrument, it perfectly complemented the music and energy of Faux Real. Throughout their performance, each member proved that they could hold their own vocally and musically. This added to the strength of the show and proved that they are more than worthy of being a part of this music festival.
Faux Real’s most recent single “United Snakes of America,” proved to be one of the most popular songs in the eyes of the audience. On the verge of moshing in a venue that could not handle it, the crowd loved the electronically influenced “hiss track”. What added to the obvious enthusiasm of the crowd was when the Arndt's asked everyone to put up their snakes, or hands in the shape of a snake's head. The wildness coming from both the crowd and the performers was a bonding experience for both, showing the passion for truly electric live music.
Watching Faux Real and being able to witness their performance in such a small venue was easily one of the most entertaining and fun things I have experienced in a long time. I might have gone to the show by myself, but afterwards, I felt united to everyone in the Chess Club. We were united by our love of music, our love of performance, and our love of Faux Real. If this concert was an indication of anything, it is that pop is in good hands, and that these brothers will continue to go far, enthralling every corner of the world with their unique definition of what it means to be a performer. In the words of an Englishman who was standing next to me: “they definitely know what they’re doing.”