Monday, November 01, 2004

faint blue note

by Michael Bradshaw  ~ photos by Andrew Nolte ~ At this point in the game you can still get away with not knowing who The Faint are. However, the window for that opportunity is closing fast. On the other hand, if you are aware of The Faint and you don’t like their music, whether you’re a techno head or an indie-rocker, there‘s simply no excuse not to like this band.

When the opportunity arose to write a review for The Faint’s show at the Blue Note Tuesday night, I jumped all over it. I was taught in my journalism classes to be weary of stories where bias might skew my objectivity. After the first paragraph of this review I hope it’s clear that I am a die-hard Faint fan so this is going to be skewed as hell.

That being said, I will admit that I have walked away from shows by DJ’s and bands who I love, wishing I had spent the night doing something else. I know the difference between a good and bad performance and have no trouble giving a bad review to musicians I respect.

Fortunately, I wont have to do that here.

After wrestling with the door for a while Tuesday night in front of The Blue Note in Columbia, Mo, The Faint’s tour manager escorted my photographer and I into the show in time to see the opening band touring with The Faint. Beep Beep was the name of the group and they were just crappy enough to provide me some quality time to reflect on how my love affair with The Faint began two years ago.

I remember the first time I heard their music I was living in London. A friend of mine brought home a copy of “Dance Macabre” fresh from a live show at Oxford Circus. Some other friends and I were already pretty inebriated and had little energy to protest her putting the CD on. After listening to the opening track, “Agenda Suicide” for about eleventy-million times in a row and trashing our flat to the remaining tracks, it was clear my relationship with The Faint had just begun.

“Damn,” I thought, “London has some really cutting-edge music.”

When I learned the band was actually from Omaha, Ne, I simply couldn’t believe it. Not to rag on Omaha or anything, but, The Faint got remixed by Paul Oakenfold. I can’t think of any other band that has exploded on the scene like they have and can claim the Midwest as home. Some would argue The Get Up Kids have done it, but I’m talking exclusively about bands with talent here.

After suffering through Beep Beep and a lukewarm performance by TV for Radio, the time for The Faint was nigh. I stood in anticipation sipping my drink and smoking nervously as the crew set up the video screens and keyboards.

Before I knew it, The Faint took the stage and proceeded to pound out track after track of twisted ejecta that plumed in the theatre like a phoenix rising above the crowd. It frothed and shit rainbows and firebombs sending the entire place into a tizzy.

Yes. It was that good.

I had the opportunity to preview The Faint’s latest album, “Wet From Birth” so I was pretty familiar with all of the new songs. It didn’t matter if most of the crowd only recognized stuff from “Dance Macabre” and their first album (the first of their albums that matters) “Blank Wave Arcade.” The tracks from “Wet” are equally as danceable and squeal with the same high-intensity voltage The Fait are known for.

My only disappointment with the show is that The Faint didn’t play what I think is the best track on Wet from Birth. “Southern Bells in London Sing,” is to me a fine example of just how far The Faint is willing to take it. Some criticism has been written about The Faint in regards to “Southern Bells” saying that it’s “overly ironic.” I disagree. I think Southern Bells is quite sincere. Sure, the Indo-European folk music meets no-wave punk-thing is a stretch, but it works. Even though I think I’ll look back on writing that last sentence in twenty years and laugh, the song is good and there’s no arguing it.

There is also no refuting that Wet is a great album. The Faint can simply do no wrong. Most of The Faint’s critics site that the band is too dance-oriented, too electronic, too 80’s. To that I say, dance rock is what’s popular right now (thank god), electronic music is popular right now (because it’s, uh... the year 2004) and people are just now realizing that there was some darn fine music in the 80’s and there’s nothing wrong with celebrating that fact through the advent of new musical trends.

This last point is important because ultimately The Faint is an 80’s band transported to the 21st century. After a particularly stirring cover of “Psycho Killer” originally by the legendary and totally essential, Talking Heads, it was obvious The Faint is aware of their roots--I feel I have to include the artist who originally recorded “Psycho Killer” because half the crowd Tuesday night seemed to be stumped. Though, I was to busy having an orgasm in my pants to give it much thought. However, the crowd was definitely in tune to The Faint as is half the musical world at present. After their cross-country tour to promote Wet from Birth, The Faint is tackling Europe (again), Australia and Japan.

And, my fellow Midwesterners, they’re from Omaha.

After drinking enough to drown a monkey, dancing to my favorite band amidst the clamor of synths grinding over drum machines, I figured it was time to put my pants back on, find the photographer and head home.

“To wrap it up,” I thought to myself as I stumbled to the car, “The Faint are great, no-wave and punk are great, I love the 80’s. Beep Beep sucks. Midwest represent.”

For more information about this band, including downloads of some of their hottest tunes and remixes, be sure to drop in on their web site TheFaint.com

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