Tonight is a fantastic display of the power of Saddle Creek bands to grow and sustain, but more importantly, it is a brazen reminder of what electronic dance rock is meant to be.
Icky Blossoms are way too good to be up first. The Saddle Creek newcomers released their self-titled debut album at the end of summer (produced by Dave Sitek of TV On The Radio), and I’m genuinely happy that they’ve been given such a great chance for success so early on. The gentleman who had been standing (or rather, flailing and sort of slam-dancing) to my left for the duration of their set turned to me after three songs and said, “so much for being an opening act.” He was completely right. I’m sure somewhere in the back of their minds, Icky Blossoms are dead set on standing among electronic Saddle Creek bands, and most importantly, making a name for themselves so that no one dares call them “the new Faint.” This would be a terrible mistake. The group give a relentless performance, filling the room with a youthful energy that elevates songs that would otherwise be maudlin.
So you can imagine that after a set like that, the room is abuzz and overflowing with anticipation. What a disappointment it is that Trust are next. There’s nothing bad about their performance, but it’s exactly what you’d expect it to be. Keyboardist Maya Postepski presses play and looks semi-interested in what she’s doing. Robert Alfons delivers a painfully nasal drone, acts as if this is how he thinks he should act, flailing and bouncing on the soles of his feet occasionally. Like many bands of the genre, surely need time to create a more compelling performance, because it isn’t bad– it just doesn’t add anything to the night. Trust should have either played first so that the residual buzz created by Icky Blossoms could flow into the Faint’s set, or not played at all.
To be honest, I was a bit worried about The Faint’s set. Danse Macabre is great, but how do you sustain a start-to-finish performance of an album when the climax is in the first half? Would the crowd be brought to the edge two songs in, and then find the remainder lacking?
Obviously not. Instead of diving into the album, The Faint begin their set with five other songs, including a couple from Wet From Birth (“Desperate Guys” is stunning) and a nearly infectious “Take Me To The Hospital.” While this throws off everyone who’s holding their breath in anticipation of those first notes of “Agenda Suicide,” it’s a welcome surprise that works to the band’s advantage. But when those opening notes finally creep up, it’s madness. A stifling excitement envelops the room and continues on through Glass Dance, and more importantly, beyond. I would dare to say that the second half of the album outshined the first, and this is largely due to each individual displaying immense dedication and love for their songs. Jacob Thiele is amazing to watch, contorting his body as if he’s hypnotized by the very sounds he’s producing on keys. This is a band that could easily take themselves too seriously (after all, this tour coincides with a remastered reissue of the album), but instead demands that the crowd has as much fun as they are on stage.
The Faint aren’t strangers to this album, but Todd Fink does admit that this is the first time they’re performing some of these songs. If he hadn’t said anything at all, we would have been fooled. At this point it’s clear that this undertaking has forced them to look at old material in a new way, and revive it so that the initial buzz isn’t simply sustained, but that it grows throughout the work. So by the end of “Ballad of a Paralysed Citizen,” it’s obvious that no one on either side of the stage is ready to call it quits. We get five more songs, including a glorious cover of Sonic Youth’s “Mote,” and “Worked Up So Sexual” sets the crowd in a hyperactive frenzy.
Much to my surprise, their latest single “Evil Voices” stands out with a driving beat and bright tune that is possibly more danceable than any old favorites. It takes a couple more favorites in the encore for the energy to being waning. Everyone is agreement that this night was a good decision. The arrangement of the set was a good decision. Coming out to the show despite the recent absence of The Faint was a great decision. Whether you found yourself smitten with Icky Blossoms, or rekindled that old flame you once carried for The Faint, it’s always a good decision to give yourself a chance to fall in love with music all over again.