Failure House of Blues Tuesday, June 10, 2014
Over the course of two hours on Tuesday night, reunited Los Angeles trio Failure showed why they were such a highly regarded band back in the '90s -- and why they are now, as well. Many years removed from their last time together, the band was in fine shape, looking and acting vibrant. With two sets and an encore, little time was wasted on stage banter or guitar tuning.
The pacing of the set list was wonderful. Sound-wise and vibe-wise, there was a slow dip in the water with the first few songs. Once "Sergeant Politeness" kicked in as the fourth song, nothing was held back as distorted guitars howled and drums and cymbals were given proper poundings. Whenever songs felt like they were too spaced out in psychedelics, the band would give the audience (and sound system) a swift kick in the ass. Be it a slow, droning song or a fast, straightforward song, there were hardly any lulls.
Frontman Ken Andrews frequently switched between guitar and bass while Greg Edwards did the same and even played keyboards on a couple of songs. Both attacked their strings like they wanted to slowly rip strings off of the fretboard. Drummer Kellii Scott showcased an extremely rare talent of playing busy and behind the beat yet never playing in a way that made him (or the audience) yawn. His approach was to mostly pull back and then unleash when it was appropriate.
Playing most of their heralded third album, Fantastic Planet, they also touched on material from Comfort and Magnified. But the crowd that filled the floor of the House of Blues wanted songs like "Saturday Savior," "The Nurse Who Loved Me" and "Stuck On You" and the band perfectly delivered on that wish.
With all the instruments and vocals going on throughout each song, it would be easy to expect something would be lost in the overall mix. Not so, as Andrews' easy-on-the-vocal-cords voice projected through the place. Edwards' occasional backing vocals came through and Scott's snare drum sounded more like a cannon.
Lights were all over the stage, on microphone stands, various parts of the drum set and amplifiers, in addition to the actual house lights. It was simple in a visual sense, but exactly what was needed.
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For those in the audience who came to the band because of "Stuck On You," the A Perfect Circle/Tool connection, or someone urging a friend or loved one to hear Fantastic Planet via the Internet, they all came away with satisfied looks on their faces.
Personal bias: I got into Failure through 120 Minutes and dove into Fantastic Planet in college. And you can count me as one of the many people who love their cover of Depeche Mode's "Enjoy the Silence."
By the way: A collection of movie and TV clips "opened" the show. Parts of 2001, the original Solaris, Ren & Stimpy, the first few minutes of The Spy Who Loved Me (spliced seamlessly with footage of Failure's "Stuck On You" video), and Fantastic Planet provided 20 minutes of entertainment value rarely seen at rock shows.
Set list: "Another Space Song" "Frogs" "Wet Gravity" "Saturday Savior" "Sergeant Politeness" "Dirty Blue Balloons" "Undone" "Pillowhead" "Segue 3" "The Nurse Who Loved Me" "Blank" "Solaris" "Small Crimes" "Smoking Umbrellas" "Stuck On You" "Heliotropic" "Bernie" "Screen Man" "Daylight"