The last we heard from the Faint was in 2004, when the band had released an album whose title referred to childbirth while sounding like the soundtrack to a gritty industrial dance party. "Wet From Birth " was the Omaha rock band's fourth album, and it continued the quintet's move into angular synth-rock indebted to everyone from Kraftwerk to New Order .
My, where does the time go? Apparently, nowhere.
The Faint that played a packed house at Avalon on Saturday is still up to its same tricks, which is to say squealing guitars competing with tricked-out synthesizers and lead singer Todd Fink 's distorted vocals piercing the fray.
It's been three years since "Wet From Birth," but keyboardist Jacob Thiele said the band is in the process of recording its new album. Good thing, since it seemed the Faint has been sorely missed, at least if you believe the guy in the audience who felt compelled to yell out what the group's songs inspire him to do.
It was the perfect time to test out new songs, including "Battle Hymn for Children," another one about centipedes, and a downtempo ballad that the band jokingly called a "slow jam." Mostly, though, the set culled from "Wet From Birth." Songs from "Media ," the Faint's 1998 debut of straightforward guitar rock, were distant memories in the wake of the band's move to dance rock (we'll keep the electroclash references to a minimum here) in the late '90s.
Since "Blank-Wave Arcade " (1999 ), followed by "Danse Macabre " (2001 ), it's easy to forget that the Faint is essentially an excellent and intense rock band. The electronics, of course, aren't incidental. The group churns out jagged shards of electro-rock with discordant guitars and a proto-punk sensibility best heard on "Drop Kick the Punks ." (And that certainly looked like a '70s Iggy Pop making a cameo later on one of the accompanying visuals projected on double jumbo screens.)
Curiously, for a band that makes dance rock, no one in the group danced particularly well -- except Thiele, who writhed against his keyboard and even hoisted it in the air as if it were a guitar during "Victim Convenience ."
Then again, the Faint can leave the dancing to the crowd, which was more than happy to get worked up on the familiar tunes ("Worked Up So Sexual ," "Agenda Suicide ," and "Paranoiattack "). Who knew 2004 could still sound so relevant?