The Faint – Music Hall of Williamsburg – May 14, 2014
I’m a firm believer in the difference between favorite shows and the best shows that one sees over the years. They aren’t mutually exclusive concepts, but the ideas behind them are driven by differing meanings. When I saw the Faint open for Bright Eyes at Webster Hall in 2005, it was the kind of show that landed in both categories, one so memorably loud and fun that it’s stuck with me all these years. And seeing them again last night at Music Hall of Williamsburg for the first time in nine years, not much had changed, in a good way. After taking the stage to thunderous sound effects and slowly whooping sirens, the Nebraska dance rockers launched into an hour-and-a-half set, stretching late into the night.
While their music makes for great listening, the Faint’s live show feeds more senses. Matching and alternating with the dance beat of each song, beams of colored light quickly swept over the band, often while strobe lights popped and patterns flashed on giant LED panels at the back of the stage. Early in the set the band’s relentlessly pulsing club sound was in strong form on new songs like “Animal Needs,” a track off their newest release, Doom Abuse. But the crowd’s fever pitched when the band began reaching back a decade or more by playing their older material, bouncing around at a medium pace during “Posed to Death” before going wild when drummer Clark Baechle got to the machine-gun drum hits that preceded a big “HEY!” shout that everyone joined in on.
And when the Faint followed that with “I Disappear” from their most popular album, 2004’s Wet from Birth, the Music Hall floor started to bounce just like the one at Webster Hall does so often now (and did so memorably at that show in 2005). From that point forward, those kinds of moments escalated, notably during songs like the breakdown “Agenda Suicide”—the opening track to 2001’s epic Danse Macabre—which had fans hollering, and during the encore when singer Todd Fink said, “We’re going to turn this into a dance party now if you don’t mind” (as if that hadn’t already been happening) before the band finally played “Glass Danse,” arguably their biggest hit. By that time, what was left of the crowd obliged, crushing plastic drink cups beneath their feet as they jumped around to the beat. —Sean O’Kane