One thing about which I feel confident: This Faust tour is going to be more exciting than the Beach Boys’ 50th-anniversary victory lap. But first some words on the openers.
Seattle’s Dull Knife—joined by Portland-based synth master Jamie Potter of Brother Raven—magicked out some nocturnal forest drones. It was a chilling display of uneasy listening that at times sounded like an oblique homage to Spacemen 3’s cover of Suicide’s “Che.” Two busted thumbs up.
Midday Veil were on fire. They began with three new songs written with new drummer Garrett Moore (also in Brain Fruit). “All Night Drive” evoked the beginning of Pink Floyd’s “Careful With That Axe, Eugene,” gradually unfurling into a gorgeous floating aura before accelerating to a martial stomp that was festooned with David Golightly’s celestial synthesizer swirls. “Empire Is No More” featured lots of shaker action and a Lumerians-like space-boogie churn and then broke into a controlled freakout/rave-up. “Brute Force” was epic stadium psychedelia, another song that bodes well for future Midday Veil releases (they still need to put out the in-the-can The Current, by the way; talk about being on a creative roll). They finished with “The Current” and “Choreia,” playing with the greatest intensity I’ve ever witnessed from them. Ex-MV drummer Chris Pollina sat in on the last track while Moore pounded out rimshots. These songs were demonic and transporting. Midday Veil possess a new vigor and a grip of fresh material that make me think they’ll be playing larger venues in the near future.
Finally, Faust! They are the polar opposite of a legendary band resting on its laurels and grinding out crowd favorites with workmanlike polish. No, Faust are still wild and unpredictable, even with only two original members in the lineup (drummer Zappi Diermaier and bassist/guitarist/trumpeter/cement mixer player Jean-Hervé Péron, both of whom wore their own damn Faust T-shirts with charming gaucheness). Tonight local saxophonist Amy Denio and violinist David Milford joined Faust onstage. The set was amazing.
Péron—Faust’s very unconventional and unstable leader, although he got the job done—announced early on, “We don’t play rock and roll,” but Faust still kind of do, once in a while—albeit very odd rock and roll that never has won the favor of commercial-radio programmers or R&R Hall of Fame board members. Which is one reason why it’s so fucking vital.
It didn’t take long for Péron to load the cement mixer with pebbles to create a persistent percussive rattle, as the six-strong group eased into a funereal, processional piece. Not long after, JHP smashed a tambourine into a cymbal with astonishing ferocity and Zappi started pounding out a slow-mo tribal beat and the whole portentous din sounded like a warped take on the Velvet Underground’s “All Tomorrow’s Parties”—although I think it was “Ce Chemin Est Le Bon” from the 2009 album C’est Com… Com… Compliqué.
When Faust bust into “Schempal Buddha” from Faust Tapes, the crowd went mad, writhing to its cracked, lurching juggernaut of a rhythm; it made me finally realize how Gang of Four’s “Anthrax” is influenced by it. There followed a semi-conventional garage-rocky tune that I couldn’t quite identify (maybe “Bonjour Gioacchino”?) and then keyboardist Geraldine Swayne read a Savage Love column about kink from The Stranger in her Irish accent while Péron chain-sawed a white particle board, sending faux snowflakes everywhere.
The reek of chain-saw gasoline was soon forgotten when the group shifted into a killer version of Dave Segal’s fourth-favorite Faust song, “Mamie Is Blue,” from So Far. After this, Péron proclaimed, “You just don’t know what’s going to happen. That is called ‘dilettantism.’” They then moved into “Meadow Meal,” a gentle acoustic-guitar-enhanced number from the self-titled 1971 debut LP. JHP was right.
Before launching into the much-anticipated “Krautrock,” Péron praised his longtime bandmate Zappi, “The big man with the big nose. His nose understands everything.” Ah, yes, it is a thing of bald-eagle-like grandeur, and the man himself just pummeled “Krautrock” on his kit, generating one of the Ur grooves of all time—and the drone that accompanies it is very Ur-some, too. The crowd was swooning, swept up in one of the most primal, enveloping songs ever. If this was “selling out” (and it was, in a Faustian way), then all bands should do it like this.
Faust exited to rapturous applause, and Zappi stripped down to his tight black briefs in the Comet’s janitorial closet (somehow, I can’t imagine Charlie Watts doing this) for the encore, which was a perfect Seattle anthem, “It’s a Rainy Day, Sunshine Girl” (AH-YUM!). Shirtless local musician Jody McKane chipped in with crushed-beer-can-on-keg percussion, boosting the monster beat and helping to catapult the night into the annals of live-music legend.
This evening at 6 at the Comet, Faust return—along with Midday Veil’s Emily Pothast and David Golightly—to do an improv score to the televised presidential debate. Explorateur will be DJing. I've a hunch this show's going to be historic—and hysterical.