When one ponders the genre of dance-punk, Omaha doesn't quite come to mind, but Nebraska's Saddle Creek imprint has crafted solid careers out of Conor Oberst and quintet The Faint. The group released its first record, Media, a decade ago and has since released four well-received records. 2001's Danse Macabre and 2004's Wet from Birth demonstrated the band's penchant for electro-dance and lascivious lyrics. Last month, the band self-released Fasciinatiion that has yet to live up to their previous releases. Of course, their set mainly drew from it.
Portland Buzz band Jaguar Love opens, but they're too grating to be enjoyed. The only highlights from their set are when they play an auspicious cover of the Sonics "Have Love Will Travel" and when their set ends. Maybe they are just an acquired taste kind of band.
After a long break, Faint lead singer Todd Fink comes out adorned in a lab coat and goggles as strobes spray out and green lights flicker along with a swirling background composed of black and white arty images and live projected images of the band. It's almost an exhilerating moment: the music pumps as mad scientist Fink allows the kids in the audience to scream and get totally into it. They begin with older track "Agenda Suicide" from Dance Macabre. People shout and sing along as a blacklight turns on and moshing, dancing and the inevitable sweating ensues. The kids aren't minding their 18 inches of personal space. Next up is the raucous "Drop Kick the Punks" from Birth followed by catchy non-album single, "Take Me to the Hospital." Faint plays several new songs including lead single "The Geeks Were Right" which all just sound okay. Fink does a good job of keeping momentum up and prancing around the stage despite the kids sporadically jumping on stage and jumping back into the audience. They play a poppy based song and then another song where the synths blare at the end. It's amazing to see the amount of the kids in the audience: goth kids, kids with piercings, kids with facial glitter, and each and every one of them is going nuts and moving along with the music. Near the end of the set, Faint play one of their best from Birth, "I Disappear" which causes the kids to scream even more. During the encore, Faint play a guitar centric song called "Who Pays the Rent?" and the show ends. I'm disappointed they didn't play the awesome "Southern Belles in London Sing" from Birth. C'mon guys, just one more song? The first half of the set was energetic and fun but soon became redundant. Or maybe I'm just getting too old to party with 16 year olds.
Post show, the kids flood the Walgreens across the street seeking re-hydration in Gatorade and water. There must've been 50 sweaty and tuckered out kids that simultaneously swarmed the store and waited in line, some downing their beverages before they pay. Maybe the Faint conquered Chicago, after all.