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LADYTRON, THE FAINT, CROCODILES

RIALTO THEATRE

Friday, April 24

There's a fortune taped to my refrigerator that reads: "People who expect nothing will never be disappointed." I should've kept that in mind before seeing this show.

Opener Crocodiles mixed fuzzed-out guitars (à la Black Angels) and lo-fi vocals. While quite promising at first, things quickly took a turn three songs in, when the band adjusted the feedback pitch to an intolerable level, forcing most onlookers to cover their ears and causing several folks to seek refuge in the lobby.

Happily, I had no expectations of The Faint, from Omaha, Neb. Not a band that likes to be pigeonholed as "electronic," The Faint offer a sound that relies in large part on driving synths and wild effects. Everything was seemingly played live; surely, there were a few minor prerecorded elements, but these elements didn't detract from the incredible musicianship. The Faint had the exuberance of a new, up-and-coming band and the tenacity of seasoned professionals, and they appealed to all fans by touching on every album in their arsenal. The light display, perhaps a bit ostentatious at times, was in step with the rest of the performance. The Faint offered the complete package, and the audience was clearly in love with them.

After an elaborate changeover—there were eight keyboards, a guitar, a bass and a drum kit on the stage—the six members of Ladytron took their places. In the live setting, the triteness of their lyrics became a painful reality. The vocals—the jewels that set them apart from other bands in the genre—were tragically obscured by too much reverb. The low-end sound of the synths wreaked havoc on the nervous system, and the strobe effects behind the otherwise-awesome LED panels were distracting.

I'm not sure what they were distracting me from, though. Every song was two minutes too long and bled into the next. There was an air of pretension that was unflattering; the band didn't need eight keyboards to make those repetitive sounds (which ended up canceling out the guitar and bass completely).

After waiting a decade to catch them live, I was let down. I left early and pretended Ladytron never happened.

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