by Tim McMahan, Lazy-i.com
What to say about The Faint’s performance last Saturday at The Slowdown other than “same as it ever was”?
Team Faint came on around 11 dressed in normal street clothes — a contrast to the old days when they wore dramatic all-black stagewear. Yes, they’ve given up on the costumes, unless you count Todd Fink’s droopy fishing hat (a tribute to Jack Klugman?) and funky, onesie-style jumpsuit complete with exo fabric wrap around his left knee, which was either a fashion statement or a therapeutic device (I tend to think it was the latter).
Top of mind (at least to me) was how they would sound without Faint ex-pat Joel Petersen on bass. I doubt any of the bouncing sold-out crowd that turned the Slowdown’s dance floor into a giant trampoline noticed a difference. Saturday night Dapose handled bass most of the time when a bass was needed, though Todd strapped on a bass for one song (see above action photo). The Faint use a lot of low-end programmed synth parts, so there’s never a loss for any bottom regardless of a bass being on stage.
Overall, if there was a difference soundwise to this new four-piece version of The Faint it was subtle. There were points where the music sounded slightly less dense. And as a whole, the set was less overwhelming than, say, when The Faint played at The Waiting Room and the low end was so excruciating that every organ in my body turned to guava jelly. I did not feel my organs vibrate with bass Saturday night, but that may have more to do with The Slowdown’s acoustics and/or the sound guy rather than what was happening on stage.
Like I said, most fans won’t notice a difference other than seeing one less person on stage bouncing around like a coke-addled marionette. The Faint sound like The Faint, and that’s what matters. They played all the “hits” from their past albums, i.e., what people came to hear. But unless my Faint knowledge is flawed (and considering that I don’t have an encyclopedic knowledge of all their recordings, it very likely is) they launched their set Saturday night with a new song (“An Unseen Hand”?) that swayed oh so slightly from their typical sound to something more “Manchester-ish” in its rhythm and style. View a bootleg vid of the new song here on YouTube. Very promising.
They closed with a three-song encore of “Glass Danse,” “Victim Convenience” and, of course, “Agenda Suicide.” The crowd wanted more. No doubt many returned Sunday night to catch them again. If there’s a criticism of Saturday night’s show it was that the band seemed more stripped down, less “theatric,” and as a result, less sinister. At their best, there is a darkness to The Faint, a layer of dread that adds depth to everything they do. Hopefully, as they move forward, that dread will return.
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What is the opposite of dread? Why Andrew Bird, of course. And tonight Mr. Bird takes the stage at The Holland Performing Arts Center with Bloodshot/ANTI- artist Kelly Hogan. Tickets are still available for the 8 p.m. show for $33 at Ticket Omaha.
Also tonight, Red City Radio (Oklahoma City, Paper + Plastick) plays at Slowdown Jr. with Dummy Head Torpedo, Arliss Nancy, and Divided Heaven. $8, 9 p.m.
Red City Radio, “Two for Flinching”
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Read Tim McMahan’s blog daily at Lazy-i.com — an online music magazine that includes feature interviews, reviews and news. The focus is on the national indie music scene with a special emphasis on the best original bands in the Omaha area. Copyright © 2012 Tim McMahan. All rights reserved.