Not For the Faint of Heart

JACOB THIELE, KEYBOARDIST for Omaha's The Faint, can't stress one thing enough.

"If you're going to come to our show we really want you to dance," he said. "You shouldn't be scared. Nobody's going to laugh."

You'll get a chance to try out those hip new moves without fear of public humiliation Wednesday when The Faint plays Solar Culture with locals La Cerca. The Faint's post-New Wave blend of rock themes (i.e., sex, cars and rock 'n' roll) and synthesizer beats has an irresistible pulse that heads straight to your feet-tapping muscles, proving that even the Midwest has something to offer to the realm of electronic music.

The Faint's live show is not only danceable, but it includes "magically-sequenced" lights. Said Theile, "It's like we told the lights what to do and now they do it."

The Faint began in 1994 when Omaha's skateboarding park closed and brothers Todd and Clark Baechle went looking for somewhere else to emit their creative energy. After the 1998 release of The Faint's first album, Media, on the then-fledging Omaha label Saddle Creek, the band realized that the basic guitar, drums and bass setup wasn't allowing for a wide enough range of sound. Todd Baechle put down his guitar and picked up a synthesizer, Joel Peterson switched from guitar to bass, and they added Theile to the lineup.

"We were looking at synthesizers as having endless possibilities and capabilities for sound, and that's something that we liked a lot better than guitars," Theile explained.

Striving for originality is something that The Faint has in common with Saddle Creek labelmates like Conor Oberst of Bright Eyes. "All the bands on Saddle Creek are good friends and we just kind of push each other, challenge each other and work together all the time," said Theile. "Omaha's a really nice town, it's not too distracting, so when we're there we pretty much just work on our music."

Eventually, that kind of teamwork led The Faint back to layering some guitar sounds over the synths. While recording 1999's Blank-Wave Arcade, the band brought in Mike Dappen to work on some multimedia ideas. "Mike joined the band to do more visually-oriented style things," said Theile. "He's really good with graphic design, but he's also an excellent guitar player and when we were finalizing the songs, Mike came up with all this great guitar stuff that we wanted to put on the album, so he recorded with us and now he's playing with us."

The band's summer tour is in anticipation of its new record, Danse Macabre, which will be released in August. The title implies more than just dance music that might have something to do with death, Theile explained. "Mike was actually the singer of the premiere death-metal band in Omaha before he was in The Faint, so the element of metal kind of invaded the album, and there are a lot of really strong dance beats."

So put your inhibitions in that decaying cardboard box under your bed and strut over to Solar Culture with your dancing shoes on.

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