Catch Me, I’m Fainting
The Faint Rocks Show Without Statue Molestation
The Faint, Les Savy Fav, Schneider TM
May 11, 8 p.m.
The night at the Roxy turned out to be a mix of “When the heck are these guys gonna get off the frickin stage?” and “Wait, they’re doing an encore already?” The first group to submit itself to the crowd was Schneider TM, a German techno/dance/pop/other stuff outfit fronted by Dirk Dresselhaus, who I could have sworn was British because of his Bernard Sumner (of New Order) crooning. This proves the old adage: if you need someone to play a foreigner and it doesn’t matter if you need a Spaniard, Russian, or Indian, get a Brit to do it since all foreign accents sound like British Isle accents. Sean Connery in The Hunt For Red October, need I say more?
Dresselhaus and his two balding, glasses-wearing assistants put on an interesting show, but not interesting enough to buy an album. Dressed in white lab coats, they were constantly tweaking little knobs and doodads and hitting cymbals and drum pads to create a constant clattering of sound. None of their songs made me jump. They did a cover of a Smiths song to which several audience members screamed out their approval. From my calculations, these screaming audience members were 15-year-old goth girls. After knob-twisting for about five songs, Schneider TM wasn’t pushing any of my buttons.
Oh man, let me tell you about the next band, Les Savy Fav. The photographer and I kept on guessing whether the balding guy with the beard that was setting up the microphone was a roadie or not. We knew pretty quickly when he started shouting. This was Tim Harrington at the reins. He is a nut. Stage antics included molesting a lion statue, jumping around with a frog umbrella, and licking duct tape onto people’s faces (don’t ask). And when he took off his shirt ... well, he’s not the type of guy you really want to see shirtless. Over all of his shouting, the three other guys in the band put out a heavy dose of post-punk, in-your-face chaos, but overall, their set seemed like it would never end. They got boring pretty fast. The only thing that kept me awake was the anticipation that an amp would topple onto Harrington.
Finally, The Faint came onstage, and the crowd went wild. These five guys sounded like they jumped out of the 80s. Their brand of new wave pop, complete with incredibly heavy synthesizers and that sound that you never thought -- but wished -- would die, infected everyone and had them bouncing along to the beats. Bassist Joel Petersen, synthesist Jacob Thiele, who, as someone pointed out, was completely in love with himself, and guitarist Dapose looked like Johnny Greenwoods: tall and skinny, with mops on their heads. Drummer Clark Baechle was producing some excellent and precise beats with the smallest drum kit I’ve seen. Somehow, it had a small but very noticeable electronic bass drum. I would have loved to have Dapose’s job; all he did for each song was dance around, look cool, play maybe a total of 20 seconds of guitar licks in a three minute song and make the crowd scream.
Todd Baechle had the crowd at his fingertips with his singing and tight pants. Backed by an incredible light and video display that was in sync to the nanosecond with the band -- definitely the best I’ve ever seen -- The Faint plowed into one song after another with the audience yelling for more. The greatest reaction came from their powerful performance of “Worked Up So Sexual,” my favorite from their 1999 album, Blank-Wave Arcade. It unfortunately had a not-so-pleasant visual component of flashing nipples on the display screen. I already had my fill of that from Les Savy Fav.
Heck, all of The Faint’s songs were powerful that night. Rarely have I seen a band with as much energy as they had. The worst thing of the evening was that it seemed like they were on stage for half as long as Les Savy Fav. I could have listened and danced to The Faint all night long. I’m ready for their next show, and I’ve even got the spandex and hair gel at hand.