By Stephanie Roman
A late-night audience from the Criminal Records' in-store performances this evening spilled out into the streets of Little Five Points to enjoy the cool air and investigate The Faint and Ladytron show. A substantial crowd had gathered outside Variety Playhouse by the time we reached the door. Small groups of fans murmured their frustration as the words "sold out" filtered down from the ticket booth.
Sure enough, the seats and aisles were packed as the lights dimmed and Ladytron took the stage. Pressing forward through the darkness, the band appeared stoic and somewhat delicate, yet strong enough to escape from behind the Iron Curtain. The six onstage were dramatically back-lit with four vertical panels of lights. Their appearance, like the music, always conjures up a foreign place and time for me. If frontwomen Helen Marnie and Mira Aroyo were the illegitimate grandchildren of James Bond and a beautiful Soviet spy, I would not be surprised.
The ladies' purring vocals were a bit drowned by the humming synth and heavy bass beats, but the band covered a great deal of ground from four albums. Classic treats like "Discotraxx" did not disappoint. Their set also included "True Mathematics," "Soft Power," "Fighting in Built Up Areas," "Seasons of Illusions," "Tomorrow," and finished off with a sweeping version of "Destroy Everything You Touch." One obvious hiccup occurred about halfway through the set when the venue's sound system dropped out! All technical difficulties aside, Ladytron delivered a danceable and polished set. The band will continue to tour the U.S. through May 5, then head to Eastern Europe for a stint opening for Depeche Mode, and two final shows with Brian Eno at Sydney Opera House this June (wow!).
Seemed as if the crew from The Faint took quite some time setting up and sound checking (possibly to avoid any chance of the malfunctions that Ladytron experienced). The audience danced and moshed along anyway to the high energy mixes coming from the speakers above (the chorus from Dead Milkmen "We'll dance to anything…" randomly pops into my head).
Finally the band appears and is welcomed by a shower of delighted glow sticks from the crowd! In return we receive a barrage of snappy vocals spit with military precision. Focus also rests upon much bowing before the keyboard then snapping the spine as quickly backwards into an arch. (I hope that guy does a lot of yoga.) Between strobe blasts we see both stage diving and crowd surfing just about 15 years too late. But everyone's really into the music and it's great. Years ago, The Faint's crowd actually used to be skinny kids "acting indifferent at the merch booth putting on make-up," but tonight we saw everything from suburban gangstas to over-zealous rednecks chanting "oi!" (why?). Overall, this show was much better than the band's last tour through Atlanta, as they ditched the heavy-handed anti-war video backdrops this time around and returned to the raw talent and punk energy that initially put them on the electroclash map.
Set list included but was not limited to: "Agenda Suicide" (with its fantastic animated video), "Call Call," "Your Retro Career Melted," "Glass Danse," "Dropkick the Punks," "How Could I Forget?," "Get Seduced," "Posed to Death," "Psycho," "Machine in the Ghost," "Desperate Guys," "Worked Up So Sexual," "Southern Belles in London Sing" and "Paranoiattack." During the encore: "The Geeks Were Right," "In Concert" and "I Disappear."