The Waiting Room Day 3: The secret show last night was, of course, The Faint. I don’t know how secret it was, actually, though I didn’t see anyone outside trying to cage a ticket. The logistics behind admittance: You had to be invited or had to buy one of 80 tickets sold by friends of the venue’s owners. So for the first time in recent memory, the crowd at a Faint show wasn’t a mob scene.
It could very well have been the last chance anyone around here will ever have had to see The Faint at a club-sized venue, a setting where they’re at their absolute zenith. The auditorium or arena-sized shows never really do them justice. It’s in the clubs that their music thrives, and last night was no exception.
Opening was Flowers Forever, a new band fronted by singer/guitarist Dereck Pressnall of Tilly and the Wall that includes Adrianne Verhoeven of 4th of July, Art in Manila and Coyote Bones. She’s one busy lady. Pressnall’s songs border on protest ballads, where he accentuates every phrase with an obscenity (maybe they should be called Flowers Fuckin’ Forever). Are they war songs? Songs about personal freedom? I’m not sure, though I know they’re rooted in his personal beliefs. As a result, the music has a ’60s aesthetic that you’d expect from a band named Flowers Forever, though style-wise nothing they play resembles music from that era. Instead I was vaguely reminded of ’70-era NYC punk rock with distinctive folk overtones, as well as aspects of modern-day baroque (a few songs featured trumpet, one, trombone). Artsy, yes, and slightly pretentious, they still managed to pull some rock moments out of their set.
They were followed by The Faint. As is their style, two projector screens were set up on stage to show the usual videos designed to enhance the beat. I said yesterday that this would probably be the ultimate test of the house sound system, and it was – chest-crushing bass (their signature sound these days) literally shook the walls. I was standing on a platform off to the left above the crowd and watched as tiny bits of crud dusted from the ceiling lit by the projector beam. I can’t imagine what it would have been like without ear plugs — even with them, my head was ringing when I got home. It was impressive, if not painful.
What to say about their set? It was long, well-played, and familiar. The dance floor was completely full and Todd only had to prompt the crowd once. “I realize this is friends and family, but you can dance. We can have a party.” He needn’t have suggested it, as everyone on the floor was bobbing throughout the set.
The band played at least three new songs that weren’t much of a stretch from their older material. The last song, a laid-back ballad, sounded like something off Her Space Holiday’s last album. Of course it was the classics off Danse Macabre and Blank Wave Arcade that got the crowd pumping. I don’t know if The Faint will ever write a song as good as “Glass Danse” (or an album as good as Danse Macabre) again, and I’m not sure they need to. Most people who read this blog have been listening to The Faint since Blank Wave came out in ’99 (that’s eight years ago for those of you keeping track). We tend to forget that their music hasn’t been exploited to its fullest potential. Other than college stations and MTV2, it’s never had the national exposure that it deserves, certainly not national FM airplay. The Faint could live off – and grow their fan base – merely by performing Danse and Blank Wave on tour. But they’d never be satisfied doing that. Who would?
Based on the Pitchfork article that came out last week (here) it could be a year until they release a new record. That won’t stop them from touring, though. Last night’s gig was a warm-up for SXSW, where they will likely be one of the hottest tickets at the festival.
Three nights in a row at The Waiting Room is quite enough. I’m tired. I don’t know how Leibowitz and Johnson do it every night. I guess it helps if you can sleep in until 2 in the afternoon. Regardless, they’re probably used to it after running One Percent Shows for the past decade. They better be. They’ve got the club that they’ve always wanted, and they’ve christened it in style with a weekend of amazing shows. Based on everything I’ve seen and heard, they’ve got a long, successful future ahead of them, along with a lot of long, long nights.
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