THE FAINT Live in Chicago

We Get Seduced

Omaha Nebraska isn’t really a place normally associated with electronic music. Known more for its flat lands, it has however, given America one of the best electro-dance, punk, indie-wave bands in the form of THE FAINT.

Formed originally in 1995 by skateboarding buddies, Todd Fink, his brother Clark Baechle, and Joel Petersen, along with Conor Oberst started a rock based band called Norman Bailer. Shortly after, Conor left and the other three continued to release singles under the new name The Faint, along with a CD called Media but to no major attention. Not fully satisfied with the whole “rock” thing, they discovered the joy and appeal of keyboards, made a change in their sound, and in 1999 released their first electronic piece called Blank-Wave Arcade, an album filled with more pop and dance influenced numbers. This was also the time Jacob Theile came on board, later being joined by Dapose who helped finalize the band’s line up.

2001’s ‘Danse Macabre’ would become an instant hit with the teenage crowd who saw both the lyrics and danceable rhythms as an escape method. At this point, the band was not only becoming an underground success but also becoming a well known name for live performances that were not just favored for the music but for the artsy side of the band’s visions. When Wet from Birth was released in 2004, it broke into the top 100 albums chart in the US and the band toured not only stateside but also worldwide. The last album released was 2008’s Fascination, an album written, recorded and produced entirely by the band on their own, newly formed record label. Possibly their most diversified, “it’s an extension of all of us” said Petersen. There were more tours, culminating in a co-headlining tour with Ladytron in 2009 before the band went back home. Now, a year later, they were returning to indulge us once more, only this time, the stage was entirely theirs.

The excitement and anticipation started well before the band ever stepped foot on stage. From the moment of arrival, there had stood on stage tall contours covered in garbage bag looking tarps but it wasn’t until the second band ended and the crew came out that the coverings were removed and we were introduced to the multitude of mannequins. All dressed in matching black suit coats and with shiny, mosaic like plastered bodies, they had various degrees of facial features, some with heads and glowing eyes, others in obscure shapes. One such mannequin was placed high on the rack of side speakers who, eyes aglow, pointed down at the band with a mixture of a surprised and almost accusatory look. Two more, Frankenstein posed, surrounded drummer Clark but perhaps the star was the model-like poised leader who held up Jacobs keyboards. Once scattered ever so cleverly, it lent for a humorously eerie feel that a later arriving camera women could only describe as “what the…..?”

Finally the Morse code like flashing of a crewman’s small flashlight signaled the lights down and after an unexpected and disappointing show cancellation the night before due to venue flooding, it was great to see tonight starting off with an electrifying bang in the shape of ‘Mirror Error’. Screeching, high pitched sirens met seconds later by the distinctive dance beat that is The Faint got the crowd instantly moving. This was followed by ‘Dropkick the Punk’, a head bashing, fist punching, hardcore punk song that showcased the edgier, angry side of the band’s music. It also started what would be one of the most entertaining things to watch… Jacob’s dancing. Tall, skinny and as flexible as a gymnast, his flailing body would bounce, spin and twist like a pretzel but most impressive were the moments when, with what seemed like effortless speed and range, he’d buckle down, extend backward and touch the floor behind him, then ricochet back up to return to the keys as if nothing had just happened . Not a presence you see every day but then again, The Faint isn’t your ordinary band and with a reputation for unforgettable live shows, this was just a drop in the bucket.

‘Agenda Suicide<'s mixture of rapid guitar and warping key chords reminiscent of early Duran Duran but with a more urgent feel continued the craziness as the crowd began to rip up the floor. Computerized, mutated vocals from Todd sung through a second microphone gave 'The Conductor', a song a bit more characteristic of their earlier rock influences, a uniqueness of it's own while in contrast, 'Southern Bells In London Sing' brought about a bit softer, more melodic and orchestral side of the band with its dominant string sectioned arrangements. Todd, dressed almost entirely in black with eyes darkened by liner, frolicked around the stage to pulsating sounds, truly enjoying the moment and releasing jubilant smiles which were at times in contrast to a number of the songs foreboding, dark lyrics; one such song being 'Take Me to the Hospital'. Arguably one of the bands funkiest songs, it's deep, stomach throbbing beats and groovy synthesized vibes helped to cover up the songs somewhat disturbing subject. Leave it to Todd and Co. to make it acceptable to get down to the spellings of HOSPITAL and BLOOD.

With Jacob dedicating it to the now imprisoned Lindsey Lohan, ‘Get Seduced’ was a great one for the pounding bassline of Joel. Covered by schizophrenic electrolyzed noise, it was just another in an array of songs that saw Joel and Jacob bopping their heads so hard it was surprising they didn’t fly off! And by the time the band hit their much loved ‘Paranoiattack’, a digitalizing, bass dripping number, the crowd was revving up for the ultimate rave. Taking over for Todd in the “Paranoia” shouting match, the crowds enthusiasm escalated and was not going to let the band walking off for a quick break stop the mode.

Returning with a three song encore that began with ‘The Geeks Were Right’, a more guitar charged number, the heat hit a blistering level and once the band broke into the infectiously frenzied, pure electro ‘Glass Danse’, all caution was thrown out the door. Friends and strangers alike were thrashing this way and that and it seemed hundreds were now one big, sweaty, cohesive bouncing ball. The sporadic lights, and the band reveling in the fervor just intensified the atmosphere and lead into the appropriate final song. ‘I Disappear’< saw more than the band eventually doing just that but gone also was the often experienced animosity of people smashing their way around or up front. Everyone was just raving to the max, together putting aside any worries or concerns of life and instead immersing themselves in one final freak out before the lights came back on and it was back to reality. Looking around, there were a multitude of faces with "OMG" or "what the heck just happened?" expressions, mainly because many around me, including the rest of my clan, had never had the pleasure of experiencing a Faint show before. But no doubt, they won't forget and will be well prepared for the next time!

by Lori Tarchala
5th October 2010

Lori Tarchala
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