What a difference 16 years can make; there were probably more people at Failure’s first reunion show than bought their last album, 1997’s Fantastic Planet. The (mostly white male) fans packed into the El Rey Theater in their hometown of Los Angeles last Thursday night, February 11, for an evening with the heavy rock heroes. No openers, just a short film with clips from some of their cinematic influences, ranging from Andrei Tarkovsky art films to the opening of The Spy Who Loved Me (which they had used for the “Stuck on You” video) to the classic Ren & Stimpy cartoon “Space Madness,” finally culminating in, of course, a segment from René Laloux’s film Fantastic Planet. Then the screen dropped, and there they were, older and wiser but sounding just as good with “Another Space Song.”
With a minimalist stage design (strings of lights on the mic stands and drums, some light banks behind them, two giant white Sunn amps), the power trio blasted through 19 of their greatest non-hits. Compared to a band like, say, Toxic Holocaust, they didn’t put on the most dynamic performance, but the live show reinforced just how HEAVY they are. Wave after wave of soul-shaking bass washed over the audience as the band delivered faithful renditions of songs like “Saturday Saviour” and “The Nurse Who Loved Me.” It really drove home the importance that Failure had to the development of heavy music; you can see how bands like Cave In and A Perfect Circle were heavily influenced by them. The audience reacted like they were, in fact, watching a band like Toxic Holocaust, singing along and banging their heads. The band was in good form, having fun with the material – which bodes well. If their first performance in so many years felt this comfortable, who knows what that means the future might bring?
“Another Space Song“
“Dirty Blue Balloons“
“Stuck On You“
“The Nurse Who Love Me“
“Let It Drip“
***Failure next perform with Puscifer and A Perfect Circle at the Greek Theatre on May 10.