Saddle Creek | The Faint | Reviews


Danse Macabre Remixes - ASC83269

Author: Kate Collier
05/10/2003 | | | Live Show Preview
Few bands I've seen have worked the Irving Plaza stage quite as well as the Faint did May 10. Sneaking onstage to the opening blips of "Glass Danse," the Faint established early they would make the most of the coordinated elements of their live show: flashy lighting, film projection, appropriately balanced sound, and lots of hip shaking and angular haircuts bouncing in time. The propulsive "Glass Danse," with its kicky synth riff, was the perfect opener, and the audience reacted, throwing arms in the air, bobbing their heads.

The well-crafted set list matched standout tracks from 1999's Blank-Wave Arcade with those from 2001's Danse Macabre (original versions, not the recently released remixes). Twin screens dominated the rear of the stage, and the films projected on them, which ranged from full-scale storytelling animation ("Agenda Suicide") to more abstract image collages (floating bar codes and dancing geometric shapes, or the parade of nipples used for "Worked Up So Sexual"), complemented and synched up to each song. The lighting also added to the overall mix -- these boys wear red and black even better than do Interpol. But perhaps most important was the energy with which the Faint approached these songs; even when it was unclear which parts were played live as opposed to sequenced, the band was always moving and obviously having a lot of fun.

"Call Call" found the Faint using synth lines both bright and dark, and was followed by the more bottom-heavy "Your Retro Career Melted." The danceable stutter of "Posed to Death" translated especially well in a live setting. Even though the Faint hit their stride early and maintained momentum throughout the performance, the tracks clustered at the set's end drew even bigger audience responses. Dancing levels seemed to peak during "Worked Up So Sexual," which the band played before they left the stage for the first time and was visually augmented by the aforementioned filmic parade of nipples. When singer Todd Baechle returned onstage alone for the pseudo-string-heavy "Ballad of a Paralysed Citizen," it was the only slow point of the evening and allowed the crowd to re-energize for the final two songs. A barrage of images, from dancers to explosions, accompanied the Vocoder-heavy "The Conductor" and the corporate-jobs-are-empty ethos of "Agenda Suicide" was well illustrated by elaborate animation.

The brevity of the Faint's hour-long set -- and their songs in general -- worked to their advantage. Applying punk-rock sensibility to dance and electronic influences kept the songs from rambling on too long, and the Faint has clearly learned a thing or two about showmanship from their influences (which may span Depeche Mode to Nine Inch Nails). The effects were never overkill, and the Faint's refusal to interrupt the full-speed-ahead quality of their set with slower numbers or stage banter left me wanting to return for the May 12 New York show.