Post-punk electronic musical geniuses, the Faint commandeered a dance mosh pit for the ages Tuesday June 30th at Chicago’s Bottom Lounge.
The band embarked on two summer stops in the Midwest; the first of two was an electric show in Chicago before heading up to Milwaukee’s Summerfest.
The Faint was originally made up of Joel Petersen, and brothers Todd Fink and Clark Baechle. As a vanguard act for the then newly formed indie label out of Omaha, Saddle Creek, the band foreshadowed things to come with the release of their first LP new wave reflective, “Media” in 1998. In 1999, the band added keyboardist Jacob Thiele, who brought trademark synthesizers to the mix. Introducing synthesizers to the band’s canvas was about as revelatory as enrolling Harry Potter into Hogwarts. After 99’s release of “Blank-Wave Arcade”, the Faint began to build a following with their expanding vibrato as well as energetic live shows.
Under a resounding anticipatory buzz, the Faint released “Dance Macabre” in 2001. The album showed a darker side of the Faint, and pronounced the addition of the band’s fifth member, Dapose. As a former death metal guitarist for the band LEAD, Dapose brought a heavy edge to round out the Faint’s paradoxical dark, yet upbeat dance jams. The album catapulted on to be one of Saddle Creek’s all-time best sellers, churning out 147,000 copies. With a subsequent tour, the Faint cemented the legend of their live shows: a hectic sweaty dance seizure array of self-engineered precise lights and on-stage projections, in addition to unparalleled energy.
In 2004, the Faint released their fourth album, “Wet From Birth”. Ever expanding their trademark sound, the Faint continued to tour the world with the likes TV on the Radio and Beep Beep. After “Wet From Birth”, the Faint embarked on their most expansive journey yet. They built their own studio in Omaha, and began recording and self-producing their next album. The changes allowed the Faint to experiment, try new techniques, and re-work sounds to be more intricately layered than ever before. With the release of 2008’s “Fasciinatiion”, the band thematically addressed apply titled fascination with the future, culture, politics, and even war.
The 2010 Maha music festival marked the last appearance of the band as a five piece. After bassist Joel Petersen quit the band, the future of the Faint seemed both grim and uncertain.
Todd Fink, Clark Baechle and Jacob Thiele quietly toured as Depressed Buttons, while guitarist Dapose worked on material for Vverevvolf Grehv.
A Faint reunion seemed unlikely, when in 2012, the band announced a string of US shows, and a deluxe reissue of the recently remastered “Danse Macabre”. An unseen hand had pulled the Faint out of dormancy.
Last year, the Faint released their 6th studio LP “Doom Abuse” under the SQE Music label. With familiar relentless rhythms and the usual exceptional basslines, “Doom” reflected on love, broken ties, basic needs (or needs we need not), while mixing in some lighter tunes about dress codes and even insanity.
Doors from the Bottom Lounge bar and restaurant area into the venue opened precisely at 8 PM. Flocks of fans gradually made their way through the doors and waited patiently against the stage for the show to begin.
The Faint merch booth was filled with relic singles, all Faint albums, the deluxe reissue of “Dance Macabre”, and Faint shirts of all poses. It was a happening place, before and after the Faint set. A merch salesman for the opening band stood guard at another table, ready on the right.
Opening the show were Chicago natives, Lasers and Fast and Sh!t. The five man band powered through a forty minute set filled with several short songs that packed a punch! The band gave 100% of their energy, and played their hearts out under a thick veil of smoke from a fog machine. Equipped with keyboards, a forceful drummer, and a heavy guitar sound, Lasers got the crowd moving with their intense garage-punk sound. The band was certainly not shy to interact with fans. At one point around the middle of the set, the lead singer asked, “Everyone feeling good?” After a positive response he said, “I don’t care” and tossed a water bottle into the audience.
After transitioning equipment, the lights dimmed. Under a glow of remaining haze, the Faint took the stage. The ambiance was instantly set, and dancing immediately ensued.
Having not played a Faint show in several months, lead singer Todd Fink joked at one point about being out of breath. Dancing throughout their set with beat-aligned laser lights abound, the Faint’s movement remained as true to their otherworldly sound as humanly possible. The knowledgeable crowd was alive with movement and song, constantly singing along.
Throughout fifteen songs, the four fashionable fellows played jams that stretched from 1999 to 2014. Included were Doom Abuse’s “Help In The Head”. Fink described the jam as “the most obnoxious track off our new record”, from which the chorus is madness chronicled in an epic wail. To end out the set, a repetitive pulse introduced “Agenda Suicide” from “Danse Macabre”. Fans in the audience thrashed around, and echoed back the lyrics, “Like a cast shadow, like a cast shadow” with epic force.
The band left the stage, and reappeared after several minutes of cheers and claps from fans who were hungry for more. The four song encore reached a fever pitch when the band started into the 2004 classic, “Paranoiattack” that addresses a post-9/11 world of hysteria. The crowd shouted along to the repeated chant at the end of the lyric, “Buying tape to seal us off in PARANOIA! PARANOIA! PARANOIA!”
To close out the night, the Faint ended with “Glass Dance”, which remained true to its name and set all in motion.
With two successful shows, and fans out in force, the Faint have made it known that they still have a presence in the music scene… all while ready to make everyone within hearing range dance!
Words and photos by: Tiffany Cuthrell