Last summer, when I only had one fake job (I presently have 2), I briefly entertained the idea of submitting writing to the local “weeklies.” The other night while “tidying” a disused hard drive (Hey baby, wanna come over and tidy some disused hard drives?) I stumbled upon the word file where I was working out my “samples.” Rather than delete them, I’ve decided to post the ones I finished here. Without further ado:
The Faint w/ Enon
(Live @ The Majestic, May 2003)
I went into this show expecting a lot – having seen The Faint make their darkly-themed live show work so well on an early tour in support of ‘Blank Wave Arcade‘. After witnessing this performance at the Majestic, I’m not quite sure what to think. Part of the reason I was so impressed with them in the first place was because they were able to so effortlessly trigger the atmospheric effects (lighting, smoke) themselves, while still playing their instruments. In this new (post-no-doubt, post-electroclash-hype) version of the Faint, the band members are no longer bearing the burden of controlling the effects. Unfortunately, they’re not playing their instruments anymore, either.
The visual element of the show has grown considerably since I last saw them, a development that is likely a direct result of their large-scale tour with No Doubt in 2002. The centerpieces of the new production are song-specific video clips, projected on two giant screens behind the band. Each of these clips is well thought-out and intimately integrated into the music, but the cost of this precision is reflected in the blatant abuse of prerecorded music. There are times when all four upright members are focusing the whole of their energy on dancing while their phantom instruments play on. That’s not to say that the band never plays their instruments — on the contrary, they all do from time to time. Roughly once per song, however, it becomes glaringly obvious that no one on stage is actively playing music.
This new development has me a bit torn, as I am diametrically opposed to miming, but I really did appreciate the visuals – I felt they added a lot to the “show” as a whole. I just can’t help but feel that their synchronization to the music could be made slightly less precise, keeping the audience from being cheated out of a live performance.
Complicating this musical moral dilemma are Enon – who opened the show, played all their instruments, and were very obviously having an off-night. I’ve enjoyed some of Enon’s recorded work, and have seen them perform once before. This set was easily the worst representation I’ve ever seen them put forth, live or otherwise. The Faint, as I mentioned above, were inherently stop-on-a-dime precise, and easily stole the show. I can’t help but wonder, however, what would have happened if Enon had been “on” that night – disregarding the fact that most everyone was there to see The Faint in the first place. For the average concertgoer, would the thrill of seeing a live band play a great set have outweighed the cold but crowd-pleasing precision of watching The Faint play bits and pieces of their songs to a backing track?
Probably not. But then – I’m a cynic.
Shortly after writing this, It dawned on me that our local weeklies don’t publish show reviews – just glowing teasers for upcoming events. I stopped working on the word file and it got “organized” into a remote corner of a drive that I later stopped using.