Imagine a hipster house party in Urbana, but bigger and better. To set the scene, the room is lit solely by multi-colored beams of light. They occasionally flash on and off to cause a strobe effect, while projection screens play bizarre videos to the beat of dance music.
On Tuesday, March 13, the Canopy Club hosted The Faint, which was a concert that could be described as a huge dance party with trippy visual effects and tunes to get your hips swaying.
The evening started with a half-hour set by Coco Coca, a local one-man band nominated for Best New Artist in the upcoming WPGU/buzz Local Music Awards. Accompanying Coca on stage was an electric guitar, a synthesizer and a huge inflated skull. Synthesized beats were looped and sampled with vocals that were hard to distinguish. The most interesting part of his set was when he played the synthesizer with the head of his guitar. Coca got two groups of kids dancing during the set, including a tall man wearing leggings and a Marge Simpson-style long, beaded necklace.
Flowers Forever from Omaha also played a half-hour set with the standard bass, drums and guitar, along with the addition of trumpet, keyboards and trombone. Interestingly, some of the drum parts were played with mallets, but other than that, the extent of on stage excitement involved slow swaying. Along with slow breakdowns, portions of a few songs sounded like an opening track to a western film, or a bullfight. Their lyrics were along the lines of “Flowers, flowers, you will save us, cover our eyelids, you will save us.”
After surprisingly short sets from the opening bands, The Faint came on and opened with “Dropkick the Punks.” The backdrop consisted of three projection screens that played videos to go along with the lighting effects and upbeat music. The band danced along to their songs and got the crowd jumping. Surprisingly, more people were pushing and jumping than dancing.
The Faint played some slower songs that the crowd did not seem to recognize, along with songs like “Worked Up So Sexual” from their album Blank-Wave Arcade. “Posed to Death” and “Glass Dance” from Danse Machabe were played, in addition to “Desperate Guys,” “I Disappear” and “Birth” off of their latest record, Wet From Birth, which composed the majority of their set.
Although the opening bands were slow, if a person was not dancing by the closing song, “Agenda Suicide,” there is seriously something wrong with them.
BUZZ: Where did it all begin?
JACOB THIELE: The band started when Todd [Fink, vocalist] and Joel [Petersen, bassist] were interested in doing something creative. They were skateboarders, so, you know, cold Nebraska winters, stuck indoors, you have a lot of creative energy, and [are] looking for an outlet for that. They let Todd’s little brother, Clark [Baechle] play drums in the band after awhile. There were some different people in the band and at some point they wanted to change their sound because they felt the two-guitar thing was just too ordinary or something. [They] added some keyboards, asked me to play keyboards in the band. Then, we tried to do more visual stuff, and Dapose came into the picture. He was just going to do lighting and visual design stuff, but he’s a pretty awesome guitar player, so when we were writing the album and ready to go into the studio, he came up with a bunch of guitar stuff that found its way onto the record and that helped define the band, our sound and line-up.
B: How would you describe your music?
JT: We’re kind of all punkers, hardcore indie scene kids that realized that we thought music was most powerful when it could get you moving, and to dance. In Omaha, we would go to clubs and listen to terrible techno and house, and we realized we could pick up on which functions of the music are most effective. And in a way, that influenced our song and music writing, but we’re a bunch of punk kids who make dance music that borrows elements from techno/electronic music.
B: What made you decide to integrate more visual elements into live shows?
JT: I think we all consider ourselves artists. We all went to college for art and design. We all took college level art classes. I think that kind of thing comes more naturally to me than the music. We’re interested in all forms of art and creative stimulation.
B: What is unique about your band?
JT: I think that we also have a unique way of looking at song writing. We stick to pop song format, but we like to make music choices based on what is not being done at the moment. It’s just a taboo, [an] unspoken rule, that at this point and time, certain styles of music, certain drumbeats or certain ways of voicing melody are off limits because they’re being overused. We’re purposely trying to set ourselves apart … We run the videos live from the stage; I don’t know any other band that does that. The set-up we use is the lighting comes from below instead of above. It goes back to when we played basements – it somehow seemed appropriate for our sound, and it sets a tone.
B: Where do find inspiration for your music?
JT: A lot of different things. We have a lot of friends in Omaha that play music – a lot of creative, really driven people that we surrounded ourselves with. We see them working hard and improving their craft. The improvement isn’t the focus, just that they do it and are passionate about it. Anybody doing exciting things – people that are tasteful in their execution of music, people that are doing things like that, – [are] fresh in a way, but [it’s] so tastefully done.
B: What is in the future for The Faint?
JT: We’re finishing writing some songs, getting that done in the studio and then recording the [new] album. We’re going to play some shows here and there to keep ourselves interested in music, instead of just sitting around and waiting for things to happen.
B: If you could let people know one thing about your band, what would it be?
JT: We try and let people know everything they need to know through the music and art we make. I guess if we have something to say, we say it in our songs.