Fefe Dobson with Cauterize at the Reverb, November 7. Tickets: $12. Attendance: sold out. Rating: NN Rating: NN
when friends heard I was skedded to see 18-year-old Island/Def Jam artist Fefe Dobson live, they pitied me. "She's that girl with the horrible video - the Avril Lavigne clone! Sucks to be you."
The last statement is true, as well as the first, but the second is questionable, although her single Bye Bye Boyfriend and its accompanying lame video did nothing good to my brain.
When her four-piece all-boy band stepped onstage accompanied by a cloud of smoke-machine-produced mist, the peppy Dobson came on and proceeded to wow several in the audience with her tunes. It was obvious that this girl is different from Avril.
The pro-Fefe camp was vocal and enthusiastic. Many of them may have been there because of guest-listing or perhaps because of the "girl power" ethos of many of Dobson's songs, which appeal to those 30-something single women whose spirits have been crushed.
It must be said that Fefe's onstage presence is far less annoying than the Boyfriend video might lead you to believe. She arrived onstage energetically and without an ounce of petulance, thanking the crowd repeatedly.
She does have a strong, well-trained voice, but too many of her songs fail to showcase it, instead relying on the "little angry girl" sound. Stylistically, her tunes are varied. Some are slow burners that successfully show off her voice, and others are rockers with faux punk breakdowns. Although she was comfortable singing them, there was something predictable about each song.
With all the marketing cash, hype and big names involved, Dobson couldn't get away with being sloppy, and she and the band were very polished, never missing a beat or losing their way.
The crowd reacted favourably but not wildly to all songs save Bye Bye Boyfriend, which brought down the house. Most folks were mouthing the words or singing along. Ultimately, though, Dobson does fall into the familiar mould: tank tops, an all-boy live band probably made up of money-hungry suburban punk rockers and a sound that's far less hard-edged than her image suggests.
There is a silver lining. She's talented, and, having started young, she's sure to grow.