The Faint @ Crescent Ballroom| 11/23/12
Dance rock favorites The Faint returned to Phoenix last night after a hiatus, armed with new songs, a Sonic Youth cover, and the band's enduring synth-punk classic, Danse Macabre, in its entirety.
Signs in the lounge warned about the band's "heavy strobe lighting," and in all caps urged, "please be aware and enter at your own risk." This show wasn't for the faint of heart (see what I did there?), as it used more strobes than your average rave. No wonder so many fans wore sunglasses.
In our interview, Todd Fink said that the band was going to play Danse Macabre in full without any breaks after warming up with a handful of songs.
It seems odd that The Faint would open with a new song, "Unseen Hand," but fans seemed stoked to see the band play anything. Next was a couple of classics from Wet From Birth ("Dropkick the Punks" and "Desperate Guys") and "Victim of Convenience." The oh-so-familiar pulsing bass of "Agenda Suicide" followed, launching us right into the 35-minute onslaught that is Danse Macabre.
The songs from Macabre regularly find their way into The Faint's set, but there are some songs (like "Violent") they had to learn just for this tour. Even though the band had to dust off a couple of tracks, the whole set was played flawlessly.
For the most part, this was one of the more enthusiastic crowds I've seen at Crescent Ballroom, but things slowed down quite a bit for the album's slow closer, "Ballad of a Paralyzed Citizen." This was roughly halfway through The Faint's set, and remarkably, the band didn't need a break.
They launched right into Fasciinatiion's "The Geeks Were Right," which renewed the energy fans had during songs like "Posed to Death." The rest of the set leaned toward material from Blank-Wave Arcade, with a few more Fasciinatiion tracks sprinkled in. Later on, the band covered Sonic Youth's "Mote," which sounded pretty cool and creepy.
The Faint closed out its main set with "Worked Up So Sexual," and returned after a brief encore break with the new, new wave-driven song "Evil Voices."
The final two songs hit pretty hard, with "I Disappear" and "Paranoiattack" rousing the crowd to dance like crazy one last time. Folks screamed along to the repetitions of "paranoia" before the band left the stage and Todd Fink hung around for a bit to chat with fans.
The band had limited copies of a 12-inch record featuring new songs. I'm a little disappointed that it sold fast and I left empty-handed, though I'm pretty sure I'm going to buy the deluxe reissue of Danse Macabre as part of Saddle Creek's extended Black Friday sale.
This was my second time seeing The Faint, the first was at FYF in Los Angeles a couple of months ago. That show was a lot of fun; The Faint's music translated quite well to a huge outdoor stage. The sold out Crescent Ballroom show felt a little cramped in comparison, but it was great to see The Faint play such an intimate venue.
After the show, I asked around to see what other people thought of the show, and I didn't hear a single complaint from the smiling fans. A few folks talked about previous shows over a decade ago and the consensus seems to be that the band continues to get better and better with time. Because photos only say so much, here's a short clip of "Glass Danse"--
Setlist: Unseen Hand Dropkick the Punks Desperate Guys Victim Convenience Take Me to the Hospital Agenda Suicide Glass Danse Total Job Let the Poison Spill From Your Throat Violent Your Retro Career Is Melted Posed To Death The Conductor Ballad Of A Paralyzed Citizen The Geeks Were Right Call call Mirror Error Mote (Sonic Youth cover) Worked Up So Sexual
Encore: Evil Voices I Disappear Paranoiattack
Critic's Notebook: Last Night: The Faint at Crescent Ballroom. Better Than: Listening to Danse Macabre while doing the Black Friday thing. The Crowd: A dancing, sweaty bunch. Overheard in the Crowd: "It's so hot that people may faint at The Faint!" Token Crazy Drunk: Guy who tumbled all the way down the bleachers and created a domino effect. I was near the bottom of it and I wasn't quite sure what was going on until I thought the friend behind me was trying to crowd surf. Random Notebook Dump: "Holy strobes, Batman!"