Fresh off of the release of sixth studio album, Doom Abuse, Nebraska synth and dance punk band The Faint brought one hell of a Friday night to the Neptune. While Doom Abuse is the band’s first new record in six years, the band hasn’t lost any steam in time away – least of all in their famously fantastic live show. With mountains of synth and guitar, and a lightspeed array of lights, lazers, and strobes, The Faint brought down the house with a stellar 90 minute set of gold, both new and old. Together with Athens indie rockers Reptar and rising local post-punk act Grave Babies, The Faint left ears ringing and vision hazy for the rest of the weekend.
Seattle post-punk band Grave Babies have been on a roll with their live pairings lately. Just a few weeks ago, they opened for Slumberland post-punk act Weekend in Portland before heading back up to Seattle to open for Dum Dum Girls at Neumos. Tonight, they played one of the bigger venues we’ve seen them in opening for yet another great association, the Faint, surely seeing their following continue to grow with time. Grave Babies are a wonderfully dependable live act. While their Hardly Art LP Crusher is chock full of blistering, crunchy metal, the live renditions find themselves more in line with heavier 80s post-punk, favoring melody and presentation to distortion. The result makes Grave Babies’ show one of the best on the local scene – tonight’s was no exception.
Reptar aren’t exactly the first band that comes to mind when you think about openers for the Faint, but both the band themselves and the crowd witnessing them could not have cared less. The Athens, GA psych-rock band have been making waves since their excellent 2012 record Body Faucet, and those are only carrying forward with time. After seeing them at Bumbershoot 2013 among other places, Reptar are only getting better live, and addition of some of the new material we heard tonight sure doesn’t hurt in the slightest. There were even a handful of fnas who had shown up specifically for Reptar alone, and their ruckus in the front rows rippled backwards with ease. Reptar kept energy moving with ease Friday night, getting the crowd ready to dance their asses off with the Faint.
There’s one guy I always see at all the really classy shows I have a chance to catch. We discussed Radiohead and the lasting weight of Hail to the Thief before seeing Deltron 3030 at the Showbox last year. We geeked out at the Warpaint show at Neumos just a couple weeks ago, excited to see such an intensely talented jam band just be their own on stage. Then on Friday, here he was again packed up against the railing for the Faint. His reasoning for coming out early and making the front row a priority was simple: the Faint throw a murderously good show.
Not an ounce of that expectation was left unfulfilled, for me and for every other member of the Neptune audience. Opening with Doom Abuse cut “Animal Needs”, Todd Fink manned the synthesizer like a captain at the helm of his starship, with energy building throughout the atypical Faint mixture of throbbing energy and effortless sensuality. Fink and Jacob Thiele moved back and forth on the lead keyboard parts, letting the electronic buzz in the room build like a static shock. Moving backwards, the boys followed up with Fasciination cut “The Geeks Were Right”, letting Dapose rip that delectable riff up and down the fret board before bursting into Wet From Birth classic “Desperate Guys”. If the first song hadn’t gotten your feet moving, there was no choice in the matter by cut #3. From there, Fink and the gang had us in the palm of their laser-lit hands.
One (among many) of the things that helps the Faint in creating their incomprehensibly good live show is that their list of cult classics is innumerable. Played at ear-splitting volume, accompanied by mob dancing and backed by a blinding light show, every cut felt like a hit you’ve been putting on mix CDs for ten years. Danse Macabre classics like “Your Retro Career Melted” and “The Conductor” were evolved to fit the sound of the new record in beautiful fashion, erring on the side of raw, explosive energy over controlled dancehall construction. Wet From Birth‘s “I Disappear” and “Dropkick The Punks” both brought the house down in expectedly awesome fashion. Meanwhile, Doom Abuse seemed to be faring well among new and old Faint fans alike, as massive crowd reception met cuts like “Mental Radio” and “Evil Voices”. Among the very best crowd moments was the new record’s excellent opener “Help In The Head”, which had the whole crowd singing along with Fink and pointing fingers before the schizophrenic break of “Dress Code” segued into eternal shout-a-long “Agenda Suicide”. Then, “Scapegoat” gave one more undeniable reason for skeptics to go pick up the new record before the Faint closed their main set with Blank-Wave Arcade perma-classic “Worked Up So Sexual”.
Returning to the stage for a begged-for encore, the Faint returned with Doom cut “Lesson From The Darkness” before busting into double-header of crowd pleasers “Paranoiattack” and “Glass Danse”. Just like they had begun the evening, the Faint finished in a dazzling spectacle of impeccable hooks, raucous dancing, and equally reciprocated crowd energy. Truly, the Faint reminded us why they rightfully claim a place among the best live bands of the modern day.
The Faint’s sixth record Doom Abuse is out now on SQE.