Wednesday, April 8th, 2009
Ladytron and The Faint at The Phoenix in Toronto
Frank YangI’m all for the egalitarian spirit of alternating closing slots when it comes to co-headline tours, but even as someone who’s a fan of Ladytron and who hadn’t heard a note from The Faint before Monday’s show at the Phoenix, I’d have to say that the evening would have been better served if the Nebraskans had been last up.
Which isn’t a slight on the Liverpool outfit in the least – as their appearance at Harbourfront last July proved, they can put on a terrific show even without being especially animated but following a set as hyper-kinetic and anarchic as The Faint’s? That’s tough. As mentioned, they were an unknown quantity but made a hell of an impression, and quickly – their laser-guided light show and frontman Todd Fink’s manic antics made for a level of spectacle and showmanship that I’m not really used to seeing, and soundtracked by the band’s deep and thundering synth-dug grooves, it wasn’t a little gleefully apocalyptic. And helping that impression along were the audience – all I can say is that if you’re going to be standing in the all-ages portion of a Faint show, you’d best be prepared. Starting from a sway and quickly building to a near-riot, it became very clear that the front half of the Phoenix was no place for the faint of heart or aged of back. I can’t say that I’ll remember a single song The Faint played during that hour on Monday night, but I’ll certainly remember the effect it had on their fans. That shit was crazy.
And crazy is not what Ladytron are about – sleek, stylish and Euro-cool synth-pop is – so it seemed a bit unfair that they’d have to follow that up even if, by most measures, they’re the bigger band. The kids had some time to cool off as the roadies filled the stage with keyboards and it almost seemed as if they’d be sedate for the second half of the show. Almost. I’d gone into the show last year only knowing Ladytron’s latest record, Velocifero, and was inspired to pick up their equally if not more excellent previous release Witching Hour shortly thereafter and this would be about all the background I’d need to be familiar with their set. Like last time, frontwomen Helen Marnie and Mira Aroyo remained mainly stationary behind their banks of keyboards, alternately stepping out to handle vocals, and bathed in dim, red backlighting. Except for the occasional flash of blinding stage light or strobe, these were the visuals for the evening – about as far removed from The Faint’s setup as you could get.
But all this proved was that it wasn’t the stage show that got the kids amped up. It didn’t take long before they got rowdy again, each fat square wave out of the PA seemingly resonating with the reptilian parts of their brains. Though I’d managed to mostly hold my ground during The Faint, self-preservation instincts sent me to the sidelines for most of Ladytron’s set, not that that proved effective – about midway through the show, someone came hurtling across the room and slammed into myself, a barrier fence and a very large, heavy and presumably expensive cabinet of PA/stage equipment, knocking all of the above over. Amazingly, nothing was hurt or broken (either myself or the gear) and the show went on.
But even without the incidents of sorta violence, there was a darker vibe to this show than the one on the waterfront last Summer. The mix in the house wasn’t as balanced, frequently overloud and muddy, and it didn’t seem to be much better onstage if the occasional looks on the band’s faces and even a few missed cues were any indication. Throw in the hepped up audience in an enclosed space and my own personal exhaustion and it all just felt kind of tense. And as much as I enjoy Ladytron’s stuff and mostly enjoyed the show, as soon as the final note of “Destroy Everything You Touch” in the encore rang out, I was out of there.
Photos: Ladytron, The Faint @ The Phoenix – April 6, 2009
MP3: Ladytron – “Black Cat”
MP3: Ladytron – “Tomorrow” (Vector Lovers Lucky Remix)
MP3: The Faint – “I Disappear”
MP3: The Faint – “Birth”
MP3: The Faint – “Agenda Sucide”
MP3: The Faint – “Call Call”
MP3: The Faint – “Worked Up So Sexual”
MP3: The Faint – “Some Incriminating Photographs”
Video: Ladytron – “Runaway”
Video: Ladytron – “Ghosts”
Video: Ladytron – “Destroy Everything You Touch”
Video: Ladytron – “Sugar”
Video: Ladytron – “Evil”
Video: Ladytron – “Blue Jeans”
Video: Ladytron – “Seventeen”
Video: Ladytron – “Play Girl”
Video: The Faint – “The Geeks Were Right”
Video: The Faint – “I Disappear”
Video: The Faint – “Agenda Suicide”
MySpace: The Faint
If you were one of the people disappointed that Telepathe dropped off the Ladytron/Faint bill at the last minute, well, you’ve obviously never heard/seen them live. But if you actually like them and want to see them, they’ll be here on June 4 for their own show at the El Mocambo in support of their new record Dance Mother, out next week. Full tour dates at altsounds.
Southern rock-punks Cage The Elephant, who were a very pleasant surprise at NxNE 2007, have a date at the El Mocambo on April 26, tickets $8. Their self-titled debut did quite well when it was released in Europe last year, and is getting a domestic release on April 21.
Stream: Bat For Lashes / Two Suns
Stream: Doves / Kingdom of Rust
Stream: Bob Mould / Life and Times