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Student demonstrators in the rainy weather protesting outside of Coffman Memorial Union on Tuesday.
Photos from April 23 protests
Published April 23, 2024

Swoon

Playing to a timid, but attentive, crowd of hipsters, punks and goths last Friday at the 400 Bar, Omaha, Neb. new-wavers The Faint had the polite matinee crowd moving by the end of their energetic and uninhibited 45-minute set.

Although openers Now It’s Overhead took the stage earlier as the evening still flooded the bar with light, they quickly gained the crowd’s attention and respect with a mix of ethereal keyboard sounds, clear ringing guitar and evocative lyrics.

Frontman Andy LeMaster, who has recorded and toured with Saddle Creek labelmates Bright Eyes, led the brief set, mostly comprised of cuts from their new self-titled album. The set’s opening “Wonderful Scar” found LeMaster picking his blue carpet covered guitar and showcasing his impressive pipes. He may look like a young Lou Reed, but his vocal range and stage presence are pure Michael Stipe. It became clear early in the show that LeMaster’s voice was the star, propped up by Clay Leverett’s loud, yet distant drums.

And then at 7 p.m. sharp, the stage darkened for The Faint. Lead singer Todd Baechle thanked the audience for coming in an introduction that was strangely perky and polite for a show that would be full of all-black clothing, eyeliner, hardcore posturing and one bad 80s curly mohawk that looked like a modified Flock of Seagulls coiffure.

Musically, The Faint delivered, culling their set from both their new album Danse Macabre and 1999’s Blank Wave Arcade. From the throbbing bass intro of “Agenda Suicide” to the driving beats of “Glass Danse,” The Faint gave the audience an active stage show and music reminiscent of countless new wave acts, most notably early era Depeche Mode and New Order.

When not leading the two-keyboard attack, Baechle moved uninhibitedly around the stage, which seemed a bit small for the group’s antics. With a proper, at times British-sounding, voice, he elevated the music, especially on the driving “The Conductor.” Baechle’s robotic vocoder, used in about half the songs, was certainly a worthwhile addition at times, but it became cliche when employed ad nauseum.

As the show wore on, it became increasingly strange to watch five guys in head-to-toe black, playing dancey-goth music, dancing almost to the point of embarrassment, while the crowd barely moved. Judging by the applause at the end of each song, the audience was satisfied, but perhaps too busy watching the band’s chaotic moves unfold on stage to dance themselves.

The Faint finally broke the crowd’s feet loose with their final song, “Worked Up So Sexual.” As the band let go, allowing themselves to sound live and spontaneous, the audience followed suit by pogoing and singing along to the music.

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