Saturday, December 13, 2008

The Faint / The Pragmatic / The Show Is the Rainbow - Live 2008.12.12


I know, I know, I just saw and reviewed the Faint in Columbia. And it's also true that every single one of my friends that had wanted to go with me to see them in St. Louis dropped out, but still. How can you pass up $20 tickets for a great band on a boring Friday night when you're trying to avoid the reality of a massive amount of homework? So, yeah, now the Faint are not only the only large-scale band I've seen twice, but they're also the only band I've seen three times.

Artist: The Faint
Venue: The Pageant
Location: St. Louis, Missouri
Date: December 12, 2008
Opening Acts: The Pragmatic; The Show Is the Rainbow

Setlist:
01. Agenda Suicide
02. Drop Kick the Punks
03. Take Me to the Hospital
04. Forever Growing Centipedes
05. Psycho
06. In Concert
07. Posed to Death
08. Desperate Guys
09. Get Seduced
10. The Conductor
11. Worked Up So Sexual
12. Machine in the Ghost
13. Mirror Error
14. Paranoiattack
15. I Disappear

Encore:
16. Birth
17. The Geeks Were Right
18. Glass Danse

Review:
So whatever, I went alone, just like I did to the Columbia show. This time, though, instead of sitting in the balcony, I decided to hit the pit and dance for once. I made the decision to attend roughly fifteen minutes before the show began, which is also the approximate amount of time it takes me to drive from my apartment to the Pageant. Again, whatever.

The first opening act was the Pragmatic, a local quintet (whose Myspace claims they have a second hometown in Porto, Portugal) that does pretty great nearly-pure synthpop. I say "nearly" because they use a live drummer, but I actually generally prefer that anyway. The other four members all danced around their keyboards and synthesizers, with a lead singer that looks, sounds, and acts eerily like one of my friends who had to work during the concert and therefore couldn't attend. He mostly just sang and only did a little bit of keyboard work, but their only female member contributed the occasional vocal part, too. I have to admit, I think I missed the first few minutes of their set, but from what I did hear, I like them. They might not be absolute standouts, but they had some good hooks and rhythms and all that. I'm currently downloading their latest digital single from their website. Free music rocks.

The second opener was The Show Is the Rainbow, again on tour with the Faint. Frontman/only member Darren was just as wild and active as when I saw him last, but this time he didn't have a drummer and he had a larger venue to run around, which he made full use of. Even if I think he's immature in his lyrical topicality, I love his self-deprecating but simultaneously self-aggrandizing sense of humor and attitude, and his energy is just so intense. Every song finds him running around stage, and usually he ended up jumping into the crowd and then either dancing with audience members, running around the bar, or climbing on top of tables. It was great. He ran past me several times, so I gave him a solid high-five. So much energy.

Finally, after at least a half-hour of waiting after The Show Is the Rainbow left, the Faint hit the stage. And then.... they played the exact same setlist as when I saw them two months ago in a city just two hours away from this venue. On one level, it doesn't matter, but on another... it was pretty much a nearly identical concert; a total repeat. The same songs rocked just as hard and got the same crowd response. (To be specific, the songs that rocked and got the best response were just about all the songs they played off of Black-Wave Arcade and Danse Macabre, specifically "In Concert", "The Conductor", and "Glass Danse". "Take Me to the Hospital" was again fairly unexpected (relatively speaking) and fairly cool.) They played the same video projections and said just about as little as they did at the Columbia show.

The mix was a beat weak because the extreme lows were too loud and the normal bass guitar range was too quiet, as were the guitars during most songs. It's a shame, considering that I like their guitar and bass parts just as much as their synth parts. At a couple different points, though, we were treated to little noise solos by Todd on his special sampler/synth thing. I'm pretty sure he did one between "The Conductor" and "Worked Up So Sexual" at the Columbia show, too, but this time he did one as an introduction to "Mirror Error", too. Also unique to this performance was Todd's mic failing during the last verse of "Birth". His voice went unheard until he grabbed Jacob's mic halfway through "The Geeks Were Right". After that song, they spent a few minutes sorting out the issue, and during that, Dapose did a nice sampler/synth solo of his own.

Other than that... I don't know what else to say. The show was 90% the same as the Columbia show, so read my review of that night if you want more details about their general live performance. It was fun, but it was kind of a drag to realize a few songs in that they were using the same setlist. I was expecting some different songs or a longer setlist or just something different, but alas, only the first opening act was different.

Scores:
If I don't take into account the fact that the show was basically identical to when I saw them two months ago: B+
If I do: D+
[Retrospective Score for The Pragmatic: B
Retrospective Score for The Show Is the Rainbow: C+]

Final Comments:
Honestly, I was disappointed that I didn't get almost anything new. At the same time, though, if I hadn't been to the previous show, I probably would have thought this one was as good as that one, because, by and large, it was. However, I do I have to say, I just listened to The Pragmatic's "Circles" single, and although it is good, I like Haii Usagi's album better.

Why couldn't the Faint have pulled a total surprise akin to covering the Talking Heads' "Psycho Killer" like they did when I saw them in 2004?

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