Live Review: Fences

Slim’s // San Francisco // 2/1/2011

The performance at Slim’s in San Francisco by Fences was like the last beautiful fall day before winter storms arrive. The music painted a soft landscape with bleached colors which was accented with dark clouds and deep shadows. The club had the feeling of a small seaside village with people going about their business while salty wind blew from the sea. Simple, beautiful and yet gritty and honest. The songs rely on the lyrics while the music builds a soft, somewhat shapeless backdrop for the vocals to bounce off.

The band played with quiet confidence, allowing the music speak for them rather than over-performing the delicate songs. The singer, Christopher Mansfield, was the main attraction where as the rest of the band definitely did a good job playing, but kept off the spotlight. Mansfield’s demeanor was somewhere between cocky and shy. He might have played the whole gig with his back to the audience if he didn’t have to sing. Only the end of the show provided some rock star antics with him walking away from the stage while the rest of the band finished the last song. Fences was a warm-up act for Cheap Girls and Against Me but stylistically so different that it felt like another show altogether.

Fences is a comprehensive artistic outlet for Mansfield. It relies on music, but incorporates visual elements both in his videos, performance and himself as canvas for his many tattoos. His rough, almost punk-like look is a stark contrast to the softness of the music. The themes of the lyrics revolve around lost or missed love, small moments from memory and personal experiences. There is a definite longing for things that have happened, remorse for things done or said, sadness that can almost be grabbed onto.

-Miika Skaffari

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