We live in the era of digital preservation of experiences. Everyone has a cell phone, equipped with varying levels of camera quality (please note that the quality level on my Treo's camera is "crappy"). Heck, most people can make an audio and/or video recording of a show from the convenience of their phone. You can't stop photography.
Why then does The Variety Playhouse insist on an outdated camera policy? I quote from their website: "Cameras/Taping: Call 404 524-7354 the afternoon of the show. We do not know beforehand." Liars. You do in fact know: photos will be taken. The only way to stop it is to confiscate cell phones at the door, and if you tried that, there would soon be a riot on your hands. Photography will happen, all that you can possibly do is inconvenience those of us who are serious about it, and make us take low-level, crappy photographs on our crappy corporate smart phone, instead of the expensive DSR we bought for the purpose of taking shots at shows….
I offer this rant because, a few months back, i was forced to entirely miss the band opening for Ladytron because i was turned away with my camera, and was forced to carry it back to my car, parked all the way on the other side of Little Five Points. And this was in 95 degree heat that i had to hike! I was, needless to say, a little put out by the whole experience. And then i got inside and people were taking pictures with their phones anyway… It just infuriated me to no end. So i have not attempted to lug my camera to a Variety Playhouse show since then, the end result of which is that you, our readers, get only these few, really crappy shots of this otherwise great show.
Variety Playhouse: get with the times already. You can't stop people from taking pictures, so go ahead and let those of us who are serious bring in a real camera!
Okay, thanks for letting me get that rant off my chest. Whew. What a relief…
So i went to see The Faint, and did not take my camera with me due to the venue's inconsistent policy. But it was such a great show that i wanted to talk about it here anyway.
At 8:31 the Playhouse was still mostly empty, and Shy Child took the stage. This is a two-piece act from New York, consisting of a guy on keytar and vocals, and a drummer. Every once in a while another guy would wander out and add some saxophone, but mostly it was keys, voice, and drums.
The thing is, they had a really big sound, mostly based on the fact that the keyboardist played two parts at all times. With his right hand he played one part on the keyboard, and with his left he played a second, sometimes even a bass synth that was built into the neck of the keytar. And to top it all off, he played the whole thing without looking at it. I, who drive a keyboard for a living, have to stare at the thing as i type, but this guy could do two different things with his keyboard and not even have to watch what he was doing. And he was singing at the same time! That's three things he was doing at once. No, wait, he was doing four things: right hand keying, left hand keying, singing, and dancing! Wow -- i am nowhere near that coordinated: i am lucky to be able to type and chew gum at the OW -- bit my tongue!
Shy Child in keytaring action.
So, yes -- the main guy in Shy Child really impressed me with his skills. Seriously -- it was amazing to watch. And as an added bonus, the music was really catchy. The drummer laid down steady thudding beats over which the other guy played complicated keyboard parts while singing and dancing. The music came across as sounding kind of like LCD Soundsystem, only with a better voice. That is, they made a classic dance rock sound that is vaguely reminiscent of mid-90s techno, but did it with simple, indie rock vocals. It really worked.
Shy Child were a lot of fun. It's always great when a completely unknown band puts on a great opening set, and Shy Child certainly did that. I would definitely go see these guys again.
I wish i could say the same thing about the second opened, Jaguar Love, but i can't. This band sucked eggs. Let me put it this way: at one point i was so over their performance that it was more enjoyable to check my work email on my smartphone than to watch the show. That's right: i would rather work than watch Jaguar Love. That's pretty bad….
The band was a five-piece act, including a keyboardist and a lead singer in the standard rock band template. It was the vocalist that really ruined the set. He was a small guy in a leather vest with a big mane of blond hair, and he pranced around like Freddie Mercury while tossing his hair like David Lee Roth and emitting a high pitched squeal like a cat in heat. Yeah, the vocals were at the uppermost register, unintelligible, and awful.
Underneath that, the band was not making awful music, but the vocalist destroyed anything that might have been interesting. I was not the only one to feel thus. People decided to go out and hang in the lobby during their set, and as we trudged back to the car Tracers and i overheard some people behind us say, "Wow, Jaguar Love were kind of disappointing."
So, my advice to you: avoid this band. If you have to see them because they are opening for someone you like, smuggle in rotten fruit and pelt them with it. Really, this was that bad of a set. Ugh.
At this point, with the first two bands done, The Variety Playhouse was really filling in. And then The Faint came on, and all was right with the world. The bad taste that Jaguar Love had left in my mouth was immediately wiped away as The Faint played.
And it was a glorious set that seemed heavy on music from Blank Wave Arcade, but included a few hits from Danse Macabre (including a great version of Your Retro Career Melted that really got the crowd going), as well a few tunes from their new record, Fasciinatiion. The new stuff sounded a lot more like pure electronica, what with guitarist Dapose even moving over to keyboards on those tunes, but it sounded pretty good. I picked up a copy of the record at the show, so i'll let you know what i think of it a bit later…
The geeks are, in fact, right.
After what seemed like 10 minutes, The Faint said good night and walked off stage. I looked at the time -- an hour had passed. No way, really? When the band was playing, time seemed irrelevant and all that existed was the sheer fun of the concert, as the band danced around on stage and the crowd surged and bounced on the floor of The Variety Playhouse. I think that is a sign of a really great performance -- i did not notice the passage of time at all while the band was playing.
They came back on in three minutes and did Paranoiattack, with the entire crowd chanting "Paranoia! Paranoia!" on the chorus. Then they played The Geeks Were Right, the single off of the new record, and a damned fine tune in its own right. And then, to end it just right, they tore into Glass Dance, whipping the crowd into a delirious, sweating, bouncing frenzy as the synths positively soared.
Even paranoid people have enemies...
What a show. The Faint really know how to get a crowd going, and how to keep it going! This was the most fun i have had at a concert in a while. The Faint really impressed me by putting on a performance that was utterly solid. I cannot urge you to go see them strongly enough. If you have even the slightest interest in dance rock, you need to check these people out.