Wednesday, May 22

Band’s coffeeshop acoustics entertain Frente! audience

By Brian Remick

If for only an hour or two, it seemed that the reign of hard
rock over the Palace temporarily ceased with the presence of a
small Australian band named Frente! (exclamation point intended and
definitely necessary).

Indeed, last Friday night the band showed the guests of the
Palace that acoustic rock is alive and well in the land of

Frente!, with that trademark exclamation point, toured Southern
California last weekend promoting "Marvin the Album," their second
release and first full-length album on the Mammoth Records

The group has an on-stage presence that is not typical of bands
on tour. They actually talk to one another in a conversational
manner, making the show more than just a bombardment of their
latest material, and a chance to get to know the members of the
band as human beings.

The fans, too, seemed to enjoy this natural style. Following the
first song, a fan in front of the stage held up a bouquet of
flowers for lead vocalist Angie Hart. "Go get the pretty flowers,
Angie," said Simon Austin, lead guitarist. She gently bent down to
pick them up, gratefully thanked the fan and Frente! played on.

They performed almost every song on "Marvin the Album,"
including a strange yet fantastic version of "Labour of Love," one
of their biggest hits. With the absence of the flutist for unknown
reasons, Simon Austin took the opportunity to demonstrate his
ability to imitate a flute with his voice. This attempt turned out
to be quite hilarious, actually, but still showed Frente!’s casual
attitude toward their music.

Austin showed more of his musical talent – this time on the
guitar – in an excellent version of "Lonely," featuring some of his
most melodic chord progressions, easily keeping the Palace crowd
captivated and begging for an encore.

Although the audience was definitely enjoying the show, singing
along to Frente!’s version of New Order’s classic "Bizarre Love
Triangle," Hart seemed disappointed that no one was dancing. "If
you’d like to dance, then … I’d like for you to dance," she said
with her enchanting Australian accent. The crowd laughed, but even
with her plea, the dancing never really did pick up.

Some technical problems developed about half way through the
show, starting with the bass player, Tim O’Connor. He left the
stage a couple of times, while the rest of the band went on without
him. "I’m having a horrible night," Hart mentioned toward the end
of the set, although the problems went almost unnoticed to the
audience and definitely did not take away from the performance as a

Frente! has such a casual approach to their music that one could
feasibly see them as a simple coffeehouse band (by no means meant
degradingly), which is a characteristic that few bands possess.
Angie Hart’s soft voice coupled with Simon Austin’s catchy guitar
riffs and unique dancing style make Frente’s on-stage presence
almost irresistible.

The band continued the set with riveting versions of "Most
Beautiful" and "Cuscation." A fan waved his cigarette lighter in
the air, only to be given a signal by Angie Hart to extinguish the

Much to the surprise of the almost sold-out crowd at the Palace,
Frente! finished quite abruptly with no encore, playing less than
one hour total. Perhaps the technical problems became too much to

Aside from some small sound problems, the Palace turned out to
be an excellent venue for the acoustic-based band. Its small size
and intimate atmosphere gave the audience an extraordinary
opportunity to see this new music sensation doing what they do best
- being themselves.

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