The following was authored exclusively for Wayward Blog by the Pitch's new, brilliant calendar editor, Crystal K. Wiebe, a Faint fan and dog owner.
Maybe its unwise to overpraise a band's live rocking abilities if you've only ever seen it play its home turf. But the Faint's Lawrence gig was sold out, so I headed to Omaha last Saturday with the ticket I did have. It was the third time I've seen my neo-wave heroes fill Sokol Auditorium with gyrating bodies. And, dammit, the Faint's still my favorite live band.
As usual, The Faint drew a mixture of hipsters and hippies. The psychedelic nature of the audio-visual Faint concert experience probably accounted for all the hemp necklaces and pot in the air. Frankly, I'm always a bit surprised there aren't more glow sticks at these shows. There's obvious crossover with the rave scene.
But how's this for diversity of fans? Some guy in front of me, who held up his cell phone in the middle of the set, apparently also is an avid enough fan of Nickelback that he owns a shirt. I ain't judging. (OK, maybe I am.)
Nodding his head profusely to the beat, the dude seemed at least as entertained as I was by a setlist that covered the Faint's greatest. It drew mainly from Danse Macabre and Wet From Birth, the last two Saddle Creek records on which the band honed its synthy sound. "Drop Kick the Punks" kicked off the dance party, followed by a sizzling "Paranoiattack." The band also worked in older fan favorites from the Blank-Wave Arcade days and a fun lesson in spelling, "Take Me to the Hospital." I wondered if the order of the music, intrinsically tied to the video-game-like images on the three screens behind the band would change at all for the following night's Sokol show (they played the next night, Sunday, too). The visuals, which again included images of people, sometimes newscasters, lipsynching the words of the songs, weren't as interesting as they were on the original Wet From Birth tour.
The only lame moment of Saturday night occurred about three-quarters of the way into the set, when the crowd stopped dead for some new song. Actually, I thought a teenage couple near me was going to slow dance prom-style for a minute, but the music didn't even merit that much movement. Luckily, the Faint brought the energy back immediately with "Desperate Guys" and "Glass Danse."
I stopped taking notes shortly after that, because my friend drug me to the writhing heart of the pit. Down there, I screamed the words to "Wet From Birth" along with high school boys, whose sweating, naked torsos pressed into mine. I remembered how I left my first Faint show feeling a little like I'd just taken part in an orgy. And the song "Agenda Suicide" again brought on the mass climax. [Editor's note: The video for that song was created by locals at MK12, who also appear in the video. You should recognize American Catastrophe frontman Shaun Hamontree as the first of the irate bosses who yells at fellow MKer Tim Fisher, the video's downtrodden protagonist.]
After the show, I scored an invite to a party at the house of Faint frontman Todd Baechle and his Azure Ray wife Orenda Fink. I stuck to the pact I made with myself not to ever speak with any members of the Faint, lest they turn out to be jerks and ruin the music for me. (I know, I'm so starstruck.) Orenda was nice, though. I ate some crackers and brie and admired her substation-turned-loft-style home. Basically, it's a stylish bomb shelter nestled in a country club area of downtown Omaha. So artsy.
My friend and I left early, because she was feeling faint. It was a combination of the dancing, the hipster pageant going on around us all night (you have to look good when you live in Saddle Creek land, duh) but mainly the fact that she almost died recently from an acute allergic reaction to a medical treatment. Good thing someone took her to the you know where.