Live Concert Photography: The Faint with Ritual Howls and Closeness at Bowery Ballroom 7/29/19
Currently comprised of founding duo Todd Fink (born Todd Baechle) (vocals) and Clark Baechle (drums) with Graham Ulicny (keys) and Michael “Dapose” Dappen, the Omaha, NE-based cyber-punk act The Faint can trace their origins back to the mid-1990s when the band’s founding duo, along with founding member Joel Petersen bonded over their mutual love of skateboarding, which they frequently did in their spare time. However, when Fink developed knee problems, the trio shifted to music.
Initially forming under the name Norman Bailer, the band briefly included Conor Oberst, who left the band shortly after their formation. The band’s founding members changed their name to The Faint, and then signed to their longtime label home Saddle Creek Records. After releasing a handful of singles to very little commercial attention, the band added Matt Bowen, who was with the band for the writing and recording of their full-length debut, 1998’s Media. After Media was completed, the band went through a series of lineup changes.
In late 1998, Bowen left and was replaced by Ethen Jones. Jacob Theile also joined the band that year. With a lineup of Fink, Baechle, Theile and Jones, the members of The Faint toured across the country, playing the material that would eventually comprise their acclaimed sophomore album, 1999’s Blank Wave Arcade, an effort that found the band moving heavily towards an electronic dance music and techno-influenced sound. Before the band went into the studio to record Blank Wave Arcade, the band went through yet another lineup change — Jones left the band and was replaced by Joel Petersen, who played bass and guitar during the album’s recording sessions.
During the recording sessions for 2001’s Danse Macabre, the band added LEAD’s Michael Dappen, who’s been with the band since then. Interestingly, 2008’s Fascination was released through the band’s own label blank.wav — and they followed that up with the 2012 release of the deluxe and remastered edition of Danse Macabre, which also featured bonus and previously unreleased tracks, a DVD of archival footage, live projections from that album’s tour and even live footage.
2016 saw the band go through yet another lineup change with Reptar’s Graham Ulicny replaced Thiele.
The Faint’s eighth full-length album Egowerk was released earlier this year, thematically explores the Internet — specifically social media — and its impact on modern society and the ego. Now, if you’ve been frequenting this site over the course of this past year, you may recall that I’ve written about two of the album’s singles — the Tour de France-era Kraftwerk and Atari Teenage Riot-like “Child Asleep,” and the Depeche Mode and New Order-like “Quench The Flame.” Unsurprisingly, the band played both of those songs during a career-spanning, headlining July 29, 2019 set at Bowery Ballroom — the first of their two night run in town. Detroit, MI-based post-punk/goth act Ritual Howls and the Omaha-based post-punk duo CLOSENESS, which features The Faint’s Todd Fink and his wife Orenda opened. Check out photos from the show below.
With the release of a handful of EPs and their first three full-length debuts, the Detroit, MI-based-post-punk act Rituals Howls — comprised of Paul Bancell (vocals, guitar), Chris Samuels (synths, samples, drum machine) and Ben Saginaw (bass) — have developed a reputation for crafting a cinematic, Western gothic-inspired yet dance floor friendly take on industrial and post-punk music similar to the likes of VOWWS and others. However, last year’s The Body EP found the trio actively employing the use of more expansive arrangements centered around a deliberately sculpted sound and production. Released earlier this year through felte records, the band’s latest effort, Rendered Armor finds the band continuing the sound of its immediate predecessor but while balancing an uneasy intimacy with a wide screen, cinematic quality. Much like The Faint, I’ve written about a couple of singles off Rendered Armor — the VOWWS-like “Alone Together,” the Violator-era Depeche Mode-like “Thought Talk,” and the thumping, mid-tempo industrial track “Devoured Decency.” Of course, the Detroit-based act’s Bowery Ballroom set was centered around the material off Rendered Armor, as well as some previously released material.
The Omaha-based duo CLOSENESS features two highly acclaimed members — The Faint’s Todd Fink and his wife Orenda Fink, who’s best known as one-half of Azure Ray and has toured with or recorded its the likes of Moby, Bright Eyes, Paul Kalkbrenner, Eric Bachmann, Delerium, Sparklehorse and Issac Brock among others. The act can trace their relationship and the formation of their band back to meeting and falling in love while on tour. As the story goes, the duo have long and often talked about starting a band together but have been preoccupied with other commitments. However, in 2015 Todd and Orenda Fink had some free time to work together. Interestingly, CLOSENESS is an amalgam of their previous work — an electronic but shadowy Southern gothic sound that’s musically influenced by The Knife, Pink Floyd, The Zombies, JOVM mainstay TR/ST, Crystal Castles, John Carpenter and Health. The duo also cite the works of Alan Watts, Carl Jung, Alejandro Jodorwiski, G.I. Gurdijeff, the Tibetan Book of the Dead and The Enneagram as some of their non-musical influences. The duo’s full length debut was recorded, produced and mixed by the band’s Todd Fink in his home studio. The material thematically focuses on the most basic questions and concerns about life: What’s the meaning of it all? What’s the purpose of it all? And of course love and death.