FET.NAT Sappyfest, Sackville NB, August 2

FET.NAT Sappyfest, Sackville NB, August 2
Photo: Stephen McGill
When you've spent your whole career operating under a banner of "Rock In Opposition," what do you do when your music suddenly takes off?
To FET.NAT, it came in the form of a cardboard sign that daringly read, "Polaris This!"
The Hull, QC-based avant-jazz punks are one of the ten finalists for the 2019 Polaris Music Prize for their recently released album Le Mal, but their boosted profile hasn't made them any more accessible, and they're all the better for it.
Delivering a knotted mix of skronky, atonal sax, mathy rhythms and frontman JFNO's spoken howl, FET.NAT's incendiary live show is just as bonkers as ever, featuring JFNO's classic trove of cardboard signs, including lyrical aids and a winking reminder to "Trust Cops."
Equal parts experimental music and absurdist theatre, FET.NAT's heady live show is buoyed by a childlike excitability. Members frequently gawked at each other in search of cues, and when saxophonist Linsey Wellman wasn't jamming out, he was singing along. All the while, guitarist/bassist/synth player/auxiliary percussionist Pierre-Luc Clément and your favourite drummer's favourite drummer Olivier Fairfield held down the fort with their technical prowess. It was a captivating, thought-provoking and idiosyncratic mix of sounds and aesthetic.
As JFNO said to end the set, "Screaming makes you feel good, right? I hope you scream more every time you need to feel good!" FET.NAT manage to turn that primal rage into a highly technical, adventurous musical blend, and that won't change no matter how many accolades they receive.