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Photos by Kevin Nguyen
It was in April that fans got word that electronic/synth/pop/industrial/new wave/punk band (kind of hard to place them in one category) The Faint was back in the studio practicing together after a brief hiatus. Since the release and subsequent tour of their 2008 album Fasciination, The Faint has just this year alone released a remastered version of their 2001 album Danse Macabre, debuted a few new songs, and started playing shows again. Due to the re-release of Danse, they decided to make a tour out of it and perform it in its entirety to longtime, die hard fans.
It was a non-stop dance party on Thursday night at the Trocadero. Shoulder-to-shoulder people, glow sticks, everyone in their dance clothes, sweat everywhere. Even if you were sitting up the in balcony area of the venue, you couldn’t help but move. The Faint makes sure nobody is sitting/standing still.
They opened with a brand new song that has only been introduced during this current tour. A few months back they released a new single called “Evil Voices,” but most of the people who I spoke to at the show hadn’t heard this new guitar/drum heavy jam, “An Unseen Hand.” Lead singer Todd Fink’s unique and distinguished vocals reverberate throughout even though he only sings “I’m looking for an unseen hand” and “I’ve got this feeling and I don’t know why” over and over. It manages to build itself into a dark, disco direction. It’s also the type of song that lends itself well to a fun light show, and it most certainly did that.
They then went into “Dropkick the Punks” from Fasciination and”Desperate Guys” from Wet from Birth before actually started the Danse Macabre bit. It was nice having them mix it up in the beginning and the end of show. In addition to Danse (both the original and deluxe editions), they performed their more popular songs from Blank-Wave Arcade, Wet From Birth, and Fasciination. They even played their cover of Sonic Youth’s “Mote.”
When they started playing the opening track from Danse, “Agenda Suicide,” the entire audience flipped; for many people there, Danse is an album they know by heart. In fact, it’s one of Saddle Creek Records’ best selling. I think a lot of that stems from simply how accessible their music is. It’s poppy, catchy, and fun when you break it all down, but what I think makes The Faint interesting is how they create darker music (lyrically and melodically) while keeping things unbelievably fun and entertaining.
Danse in itself is a dark album that’s very much driven by social topics and minor melodies. The economy, politics, self image, happiness, and insecurity are all involved within the songs. Even while they are performing, jamming out on stage (I really love how Fink’s stage presence meshes up with the music so well — he’s got this swagger that just doesn’t quit), they have video stock images running in the background of men at army base camps in the ’50s, men and women walking around with briefcases wearing suits, women at home in the kitchen heating up canned and boxed foods for their families, etc. What’s also cool about the screen they use to project the images is it’s in the shape of a Tetris piece.
The Faint has this ability to present their darker, socially conscious songs through a vessel that is contagious dance music without it completely taking away from the subject matter. They can be serious and fun at the same time without it being annoying or fluffy.
Since Danse ends on a slower, more somber note, the guys kept the party going with “The Geeks Were Right,” “Call Call,” and “Mirror Error.” When they got off the stage, they of course came back on shortly after and encored with their new single “Evil Voices” (which is awesome), “I Disappear,” and “Paranoiattack.” Getting to yell “PARANOIA” with an entire room of people was so much fun.
I saw them during their Fasciination tour back in 2009 and I’m so happy I saw them again. I have this thing where I like to think of things in terms of food. This concert, to me, was something I’d been craving for a while — not something I could have all the time, but every now and then it just hits the spot. They deliver something so fun, solid, and nostalgic for me, I was all smiles after the show.
The Faint has mastered the art of developing super catchy, infectious beats that go to your ears and flow straight through the rest of your body causing it to move, sway, bounce, and jump around. You’re simply having a blast and there’s nothing you can do about it.