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The Faint

Standing on the floor of the Filmore in San Francisco, surrounded by kids that look like Glamorshots versions of the goth kids you might see at an Angels of Light show, the air tingles with anticipation. Soon to grace the stage are a band whose arrival I have anticipated for damn near 15 years. The lights dim. The crowd, with their eye liner and carefully tussled hair is a giant tesla of energy that explodes as the first booming notes of "Glass Danse" fill the room. And how can you not get worked up with such a perfect start to a Faint show?

I say 15 years and that needs an explanation. I have a love/hate relationship with 80s music. I love it, and everyone around me hates listening to it (it seems). I am often chided here at the 'tonic for blasting out some Wham or whatever. To a great extent, the recent resurgence of 80s culture is a little frightening. The fashion certainly is. But on the other hand, the rebirth of 80's music is a godsend for someone who craves the poppy, synthy, new wave of old but get's hounded for actually listening to it out loud.

Enter the Faint. Their bretheren of the Electro world (Mount Sims, Har Mar Superstar, Ladytron, Chicks on Speed, Zero Zero, John B., etc.) have done a bang up job of bringing the 80s back to us much to my personal elation. But the Faint, the Faint have managed to infuse the depth of new wave with the twisted darkness of sexual frustration and a hint of heavy metal. There's anger here and angst to fuel their reinvention of a sound of yesterday that never really happened.

The music is often brutal, with songs like "Agenda Suicide" illumnating the wage slave in all of us. "Worked Up So Sexual" is an odd endorsement for the career prostitute. With song titles like "Your Retro Career Melted" and "Victim Convenience" the music seems to almost write itself. To say that the music is dark is both an understatement and misleading. Remember, the kids at the show are all wearing black, but they're also wearing a lot of eye liner.

The venting frustration that the band oozes is almost completely offset by the playfulness of Todd Baechle's vocals and the tendancy that the dance beats underlying almost every song have of making one jump up and down like a fool. The Faint, with their songs of sex, transportation, work, and consumption, are ultimately just plain fun to listen to.

A bit of history: The Faint, hailing from Omaha, NE started off a very different band. A punk throwback to the skateboard days, they sound like they belong on GSL Records. Forrays into accoustic lullabies and pleading vocals that border on the realm of emo are a far cry from where they are now. 1998's Media features music that is heartfelt but ultimately not very inspiring. The songs themselves don't present a very cohesive sound; one minute they sound like a brit-pop band and the next a folk act. It was the addition of Jacob Theile, who brought with him synthesizers galor, which must have been the missing ingredient in their secret sauce because everything since then has been masterful.

The band re-invented itself seemingly overnight to the retro-new wave artists they are today. Late 1999 saw the release of Blank-Wave Arcade and every song reinforces their image and sound. After extensive touring (featuring an amazing DIY projected video for each and every song they performed making them one of the more memorable shows to see) they added a death metal guitarist who goes by the monicre 'Dapose' and recorded their latest album, Danse Macabre. These two albums are masterful and perfectly express the uniqueness of the band's style. Also look for their latest release - remixes of many of their songs from artists like Paul Oakenfold, Photek, and Medicine.

Back at the Filmore, the first notes of Glass Danse, reverberating through the crowd like a fission reaction, explode into the jump-up chorus of the song and the band bounds out on stage. The wall behind them changes pace with each song, perfectly matched with the beat, featuring live footage, animated features, dancing atari dots, or a collage of nipples and are so perfect that listening to songs now at my desk I can picture them still.