by Tim McMahan, Lazy-i.com
When it comes to reviewing Faint shows in Omaha, you have to specify location in the title, especially after this weekend. Three shows, three different venues. The Slowdown’s free Faint show Sunday night was added after Saturday night’s show at The Waiting Room.
Why so many shows? Better question: Why not? From The Slowdown’s perspective, putting on a free Faint show is a great way to coax people to come down and check out the College World Series beer-soaked carnival atmosphere and discover that parking and crowds aren’t as bad as they may think.
Regardless, I only made it to one Faint production this past weekend, and it was a doozy. The production was so elaborate it provided a completely different experience from the Sokol’s balcony to the floor below.
From the floor, it’s all about the dancing, or more accurately, hopping since no one’s really dancing. They’re bouncing or “humping” to the electro-throb. Those in the middle of the mob become part of the collective body grooving where the Sokol’s oak floor has (apparently) been replaced with a trampoline.
It’s been this way for more than a decade. The usually reserved Omaha audience usually content watching shows with a crossed-arm head nod is given permission to let go at Faint shows. I remember a similar vibe at 311 shows I covered in the ‘90s. If you weren’t part of the dance collective, then get out of the way and stand with the old people and extreme introverts along the wall.
The balcony experience — or the view from anywhere near the furthest reaches of the Sokol floor — was electrifying in a different way. In fact, the technology forces viewing at a distance to take in the full scope. You’ve no doubt seen the photos on your Facebook or Twitter feed — the blinding, sequenced spotlights burned across the auditorium like weapons. And woe is you if you happen to be staring right into the lens.
Augmenting the modern kliegs were large LED panels — like portions of arena scoreboards — placed on stage and under the drum riser that displayed digital illustrations in sync with the beat. Add various colored gel accent lighting and voila! the perfect multi-media presentation. Lord only knows what (or who) was responsible for the programming, but it must have been a monumental effort to create each song’s lighting sequence. The result was an edgy drama that pushed the performance to arena levels as good as anything I’ve seen at the CLink, albeit on a smaller scale.
From the dance floor, the enormity of the light show was marginalized — if you get too close to those LED panels you lose the effect. But if you’re on the dance floor, you’re not watching the lights anyway — you’re sweating your ass off to the beat.
Which brings us to the music.
The Faint sounded pretty much how I remember them sounding a decade or so ago down in Sokol Underground. You’d never know they were missing a (formerly) core member — i.e., bass player Joel Peteresen, who left the band after Fasciinatiion was released. So who’s playing bass now? I saw Todd Fink with a bass on one song (“Dropkick the Punks”), but that’s it. I assume the all-encompassing, deep, gut-rattling bass was the product of the keyboards or sampling.
It’s amazing how well songs from the band’s new album, Doom Abuse, seamlessly blended within the band’s hit-laden set. Opener “Animal Needs” was a strong way to kick things off. “Mental Radio” and “Evil Voices” felt like typical Faint songs next to standards like “Desperate Guys” and “I Disappear.” A stand-out moment was the downshift to the funky sway of “Damage Control.”
The show was nearly flawless, right up to the encore that featured two all-time Faint classics “Paranoiattack” and the bomb called “Glass Danse,” which is guaranteed to blow up any dance floor. There appeared to be some sort of technical glitch that took place before lighting the fuse, however, as the LED screens kept flashing numeric panel markers while the band waiting around on stage. What kind of Faint show would it have been without technical difficulties? It was, indeed, just like old times.
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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 © 2014 Tim McMahan. All rights reserved.
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