Saturday, May 02, 2009
The Faint and Ladytron at the Grove of Anaheim
The idea of pairing up The Faint and Ladytron for a co-headliner tour was genius. It also happened to be a feast of synthesizers as I spotted various Korg, Nord, Novation, Moog and Roland keyboards gracing the stage. It was only fair that I hit at least two of the three Southern California appearances.
Deemed as a band to watch by Stereogum, I was interested in finding out what Crocodiles had to offer. If you couldn't tell by the pictures, a handful of red lights barely illuminated the dual sunshade wearing twosome.
In keeping with their lo-fi visual aesthetic, Crocodiles made a lot of noise for a duo by triggering a drum machine and Charles Rowland (Guitars) proceeded to unleash a wave of fuzzy feedback that washed over the quizzical synthesizer loving audience. Was it a good fit to put them on the bill? Maybe not. I heard the catcalls from the audience when I was in the photo pit during their first 3 songs.
In defense of Crocodiles though, I think they were going for the confrontational performance to evoke a response from their audience. Brandon Welchez (Vocals) even quipped near the end of their performance that, "they would be backstage if you want to beat us up". I didn't mind the avalanche of fuzz, but I think they will go over much better when they play the Troubadour with Holy F**k on June 6th.
Ladytron continues to tour in support of their highly infectious album Velocifero. I last caught up with Ladytron in June of 2008 when they played the Henry Fonda Theater with Datarock. I never get tired of seeing Ladytron live as they bring back lots of good memories when I saw them open up a bunch of shows in England for Nine Inch Nails.
When I spotted a Moog Voyager in front of Reuben Wu (Synthesizers), I was a little surprised since he was primarily using a Korg MS2000 and Korg MS-20. Would this change the sound of Ladytron? The answer is yes. The synth bass lines were heavier and darker giving the edgy songs an extra kick. Helen Marnie (Vocals/Synthesizers) and Mira Aroyo (Vocals/Synthesizers) both sounded flawless as they opened with "Black Cat" and "Runaway".
"I'm Not Scared" was extremely heavy on the Moog keyboards with its heavy bass intro. Ladytron made the most of their set time by packing in as many songs as possible without any banter besides the occasional thanks. "Tomorrow" immediately struck me as my favorite song from Velocifero and it sounded even better live. It seemed like they had only been playing for seconds when they ended their set with "Destroy Everything You Touch". I was glad I was going to catch them the next night at the Henry Fonda.
It was one of the top synthesizer shows of the year when I saw The Faint at the Henry Fonda Theater back in August of 2008. The Faint turned in another performance that made me think they blow minds on a nightly basis. As good as the recorded material sounds, The Faint need to be seen live in order to immerse yourself in the sea of synthesized beats.
The combination of the blinding strobes with the fuzzed guitars and vocoded vocals elevate the songs to new levels. It also doesn't hurt when a sea of a hundred people simultaneously gyrate in time with the music. I did spot a few cool pedals on stage during the Faint which didn't surprise me. I long have extolled the virtues of Death By Audio pedals and wasn't surprised when I saw a Death By Audio Supersonic Fuzz Gun pedal.
"Mirror Error" punted off their electric set that didn't relent during their whole performance. The ominous build up of "Agenda Suicide" later exploded into the crowd chanting the chorus "Like A Cast Shadow". It was impressive to see the Grove of Anaheim completely sold-out and singing along. It was triumphant showing from the usually apathetic Orange County audience.
I will elaborate more on their other songs played in my Henry Fonda review but they closed the set with a triple headed hydra of "The Geeks Were Right", "Glass Danse" and "I Disappear". The Faint would be hard pressed to change up this closing trio as it obliterated the crowd and left them wanting more. I was immediately lamenting the fact I couldn't make it on Monday to catch all three shows.