Live Review: Pleasures, Universe Contest; The Faint release retrospective on Saddle Creek…

Category: Blog,Reviews — Tags: , , — @ 12:45 pm August 8, 2016
Pleasures at O'Leaver's, Aug. 6, 2016.

Pleasures at O’Leaver’s, Aug. 6, 2016.

by Tim McMahan,

I can’t think of a band as densely electronic as Sarasota’s Pleasures, who played at O’Leaver’s Saturday night. The four-piece drenched everything in technology, from the guitar, which was run though an onslaught of pedals, to the the stack of synths to Katherine Kelly’s vocals that were twisted and stretched and strangled by synths and vocoders and pedals all night. The music dripped in a haze of buzzing distortion cut through by a top-notch rhythm section that kept things grounded and rocking.

As interesting as the tech was, there were a few too many times when the vocal distortion got in the way of the music, and I wondered how the songs would have sounded had Kelly simply sung them sans electronic filters. The few moments when her voice peeped through the digital fog reminded me of a young Grace Slick, and certainly she carried the stage with a similar pomp.

Universe Contest at O'Leaver's, Aug. 6, 2016.

Universe Contest at O’Leaver’s, Aug. 6, 2016.

Pleasures were followed by Lincoln’s Universe Contest, whose pounding riffage and bellowing vocals were as musically subtle as hitting a thumb-tack with a sledge hammer — massive walls of throbbing sound and quirky (though barely recognizable) proggy melodies a la early Modest Mouse. The band had one of the better rhythm sections I’ve heard in recent memory, fantastic drumming. And hat’s off also to the violinist, who added much needed sonic nuance (and to the sound guy for somehow making sure she was heard through all the racket).

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That massive Faint / Gang of Four tour is beginning to make more sense. I had been wondering why The Faint had signed up for so many dates without a new album to push. Then last week the band announced that it’s set to release Capsule:1999-2016 on CD and digitally on Sept. 30 and 2xLP on Oct. 28 via Saddle Creek.

The retrospective collection represents a golden era for The Faint and includes 16 of their most beloved songs from five albums reaching back to Blank-Wave Arcade (What, nothing from Media?). The 2xLP is pressed on sexy silver vinyl and the first pressing will contain a bonus  7-inch featuring new songs “Skylab1979” and “ESP,” which feature the newest member of The Faint, Graham Ulicny (Reptar) on synths. Pre-orders are being taken at The Saddle Creek online store, where you can check out the track listing.

It’s a pretty solid collection, though most early Faint albums are pretty solid top to bottom. In fact you can’t go wrong with the trilogy of Blank-Wave Arcade, Danse Macabre and Wet From Birth, whose tracks dominate this new collection…

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Read Tim McMahan’s blog daily at — 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 © 2016 Tim McMahan. All rights reserved.

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