Saturday, 30 August 2008

Not for the Faint hearted

Why aren't indie electro act The Faint everyone's favourite band? Their particular genre has exploded in popularity in the UK, as kickstarted by the Klaxons' Myths of the Near Future in January last year and perpetuated by the likes of Foals, New Young Pony Club, Does It Offend You, Yeah? et al.

Well, The Faint have been very busy, but busy back home in Omaha, Nebraska, the fools - building their own studio, Enamel, starting their own label, blank.wav, and finally making a new album, Fasciinatiion, their first in four years. And with the record comes the worldwide tour and a chance to road test the new songs, including at their show last night in Cargo, east London.

The menacing opening bars of 'Agenda Suicide' announce the arrival of The Faint, their moog-tastic dirty electro and electronic beeps and whines like a gauntlet thrown down for the fresh-faced new rave pups of London town. Donned in a lab coat and welding goggles, frontman Todd Fink takes centre stage, looking like a mad scientist overseeing futuristic experiments in sounds and beats.

To my absolute delight the band play 'Take Me To The Hospital', a sparse and entirely synth-based ode to hedonistic living that is definitely one of my favourite songs, like, EVER.

I initially thought The Faint only had two keyboards on stage but nobody panic, they were packing at least four, most of which were played by Jacob Thiele, who curiously pitches and weaves as if the floor is rocking beneath him while steadfastly keeping his feet rooted to their appointed spots. He gets the chance to run the whole gamut of frequencies on his synthesizer during new track 'Get Seduced', one of their most bleepy and squelchy offerings yet and definitely one of my favourites from the new album.

Interestingly for such a 'dance-y' band, the Faint have a live drummer rather than use a drum machine, and Clark Baechle does a sterling job of mimicking the sterile and precise beats that form the foundation of the band's sound.

Having debuted another couple of new tracks, 'I Treat You Wrong' and the robot-like 'Machine In The Ghost', two of the band's self-professed favourites from Fasciinatiion, The Faint launch into 'Paranoia Attack', the whole room shouting along "Paranoia! Paranoia!" like mental patients on a football terrace.

As the band amble off stage after a devastating rendition of 'I Disappear, the somewhat undemanding crowd chant for three more songs (three? I say play ten!). The Faint don't disappoint and return to what must be by this point the hottest and sweatiest room in the whole of London to play the disturbing 'Birth' - a graphic account of the whole process from conception to the grand finale, as told by the fetus. The show wraps up with a blistering rendition of 'Glass Danse', after which the exhausted punters pour out into the relatively fresh air of the main bar to swap the merch booth and scrabble to buy up the new album.

Having loved The Faint for many years I was beyond desperate to see them play live, and this show was the electronic euphoria I had been hoping for, although to be fair they would have needed to play for at least two hours to get through all my favourite tracks. They're going to be back in London in November playing a show at The Scala on Thursday 20th and I'm already excited to get lost in electro with them again.

For the geeks out there, here's the full set list for the gig at Cargo:
Agenda Suicide/ Drop Kick The Punks / Take Me To The Hospital / Forever Growing Centipedes / Psycho / In Concert / Posed To Death / Desperate Guys / Get Seduced / Worked Up So Sexual / I Treat You Wrong / Machine In The Ghost / Mirror Error / Paranoia Attack / I Disappear
Birth / The Geeks Were Right / Glass Danse

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