Concert Review: The Faint, The Good Life, Har Mar Superstar (May 26, 2001, Omaha, NE)

Despite a few technical glitches, The Faint held the crowd in their hand.

Nothing brings people together like The Faint. It’s odd… what with all of the indie bands that are popping out of Lincoln/Omaha area, the one that always seems to bring out the kids is a group more inspired by the likes of Gary Numan and Kraftwerk than Fugazi. Maybe that’s not too odd to you, but if you do a quick survey of many of the area bands, The Faint stick out like a sore thumb, and in all of the best possible ways.

Opening up the night was Har Mar Superstar. I’d never heard of these guys, so I was expecting your typical indie-rock group. What I did not expect was to see Jon Lovitz’s twin pretend to be Beck doing N’Sync covers. Yeah, you heard me right… and it was good as that sounds. There’s nothing like cavorting around on stage in a fringe-covered tracksuit with the words “Har Mar” in silver and gold glitter across your butt to hold an audience’s attention. And when you can drop references to T.J. Maxx and Z.Cavarrici, and butcher a Fiona Apple cover, well, that’s just icing on the cake.

At times it got a little tasteless. I could’ve gone without seeing Har Mar’s cohort, Dirty Preston, do a striptease and stick his head in his underwear. But to be honest, I was laughing so hard at the sheer idea of it all to care too much.

The Good Life were up next. Featuring Tim Kasher from Cursive, The Good Life’s music may not be as blunt and explosive as Kasher’s other group, but the emotions and intensity are still there. At times similar to Bright Eyes, and at other times more in the vein of Pedro the Lion’s newer stuff, The Good Life played a great set of intense, passionate rock flavored with accordion, haunting keys, and electronic beats. Over it all were Kasher’s caustic vocals. I once read Cursive review that mentioned Kasher’s poor voice. I disagree; Kasher’s voice is perfect for this stuff. Harsh, rough around the edges, perfect for conveying the drama needed for this kind of music to work.

Then The Faint started filling the stage with their synths, amps, lights, and smoke machines. With a new album coming out in August, much of the set was comprised of newer stuff, which reveals an even darker and harder Faint. Right now, most people probably throw out names like Depeche Mode or New Order when talking about The Faint. However, their newer stuff is much more in the darkwave/EBM vein, and I’m talking about that old-school stuff, à la Front 242 and The November Commandment.

I’m still not convinced that this band didn’t have their inception in some Berlin nightclub circa 1985, rather than the skateparks of Omaha, Nebraska. They still played a fair amount off of Blank Wave Arcade, including the crowd fave “Worked Up So Sexual,” as well as reworkings of some of their older songs.

Despite a few technical glitches — a malfunctioning vocoder and a broken snare — and the usual pitfalls of a band that relies so much of electronics, The Faint held the crowd in their hand. Rolling up to the venue, you could see how hungry people were to see The Faint; the line stretched around the block. It seems like much of the notice goes to bands like Bright Eyes and Cursive, but I’ve always thought that the Faint were Omaha’s secret treasure. But if they keep playing shows like the one I saw, and if their new album is as good as the live material, then that secret’s about to bust wide open.

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