FLOODfest kicked off at Brooklyn Bowl this past Tuesday and the 90s vibe was strong as alternative veterans Blonde Redhead and Failure headlined the show. With Blonde Redhead putting out their ninth album last year and Failure releasing their latest album just a few months ago, both bands are far from done and showed up ready to rock on FLOODfest’s opening night.
Blonde Redhead was first up, mesmerizing the crowd before them with a sort of hypnotizing force. Despite the largely ambient nature of the songs played, the band was certainly not lacking in intensity – you could tell they were feeling every note and the audience definitely seemed to be feeling it too, swaying in time with the music, fixated on the performance in front of them.
Lead singer Kazu Makino’s haunting vocals were oozing with emotion, gentle at a first impression before building like a wave ready to crash the shore. Blonde Redhead’s set leaned heavily toward material from their newest album, Barragán, but still contained several nods to the band’s earlier work as well.
Opening with the pulsing single “Hot Traveler,” off of their most recent album, Failure was next to take the stage at Brooklyn Bowl. Much to the delight of vintage Failure fans, singer Ken Andrews introduced an “old friend” that was joining them onstage that evening. Despite the casual introduction, this wasn’t just anyone, it was Failure’s original guitarist, Troy Van Leeuwen, who is also a current member of Queens of the Stone Age. Although I’ve been listening to Failure for years, this happened to be my first time seeing them live and I was more than stoked to have the opportunity to see these songs performed by the band’s original lineup.
By the third or fourth song, I couldn’t help but notice a pattern – the band seemed to be playing their latest album, The Heart Is a Monster, right in order. My suspicions were correct as Andrews informed the crowd that the evening’s set would be divided by album, and that they were currently listening to the first half of their newest release. After powering through the first nine songs off of The Heart Is a Monster, they proceeded to briefly touch on their first album, Comfort, before finishing the set with songs from Magnified and Fantastic Planet.
The crowd eagerly chimed in on “The Nurse Who Loved Me,” which led off the band’s encore. “I knew you guys had it in you,” Andrews remarked, smiling in acknowledgement of the audience’s willing participation. A rare performance of the Depeche Mode hit “Enjoy the Silence” followed, a song that only recently found its way back into Failure’s rotation with Van Leeuwen rejoining the band for their October tour (previously, they hadn’t played it live since 1997).
From a fan’s point of view, you can’t really ask for much more when all four of Failure’s albums each have their share of the show, and better yet, you get all of the original guys playing those very songs. They sounded as good as ever in an extremely solid set from start to finish that was sure to please older fans and newer fans alike, especially first-timers like me who were just seeing them for the first time in 2015.
Article: Nicole Shyti