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Failure Crushes Metro Thursday Night After 17-Year Chicago Absence

By Casey Moffitt in Arts & Entertainment on May 25, 2014 5:30PM

photo credit: Priscilla Chavez

It had been 17 years since Failure hit a Chicago-area stage, but on Thursday night the band returned to Metro and delivered a blistering two-set show, barely showing any signs they had taken an extended hiatus.

Failure leaned heavily on tunes from their epic 1996 release Fantastic Planet, playing 13 of the 17 songs from the album, and threw a few hits from their previous two albums. Surprisingly, Failure did not play a new tune, “Come Crashing,” which had been leaked a week before the show, and is part of an EP the band is selling exclusively at the shows on this latest tour.

The set started with a montage of scenes from some of the band members’ favorite moves, including 2001: A Space Odyssey, The Spy Who Loved Me and an episode of the Ren and Stimpy Show, as well as some other lesser-known films. During the montage, images of the band members were imposed during the theme song of The Spy Who Loved Me, which sent the crowd into a mild frenzy.

Failure took to a dark stage and used minimal lighting through the set. Plain white Christmas-style lights were wrapped around the microphone stands and around the giant speaker cabinets on the back line, as well as around the drum set. They were augmented by a few lights from the floor and a handful on the lighting rack at the back of the stage. The house lighting system was barely touched. It gave the show a rather eerie and mysterious vibe.

The crowd was greatly anticipating the show. No doubt for some it was the first time many had seen Failure perform. The band has only grown in popularity since their split in 1997. However, there were plenty who had seen them at Lollaplooza 1997 and few more who had caught the act opening for The Flaming Lips and Tool way back in 1994.

Those past shows featured a few more musicians than the three members who played Thursday night: Ken Andrews, Greg Edwards and Kellii Scott. The trio still filled the hall with an enormous amount of sound. Scott’s hard hitting propelled the tunes while spacey guitars turned crunchy and bass tones grumbled and growled through the night.

The band’s performance was lean and mean, but still produced a giant sound.

The first set was really bass heavy. It wasn’t distracting, but it did tend to drown out some of the soaring guitar leads and the Andrews’s vocals a bit. The band took a 15-minute break, which seemed odd at the time. They had played for maybe an hour when they took the break. But when they returned the mix of the instrumentation was a lot better, so whatever they did in that 15 minutes was well worth the wait.

The second set and encore were intense. The sounds at the height of those crescendos swelled to an incredible sonic tidal wave that sent chills. It was an impressive feat.

If you missed Failure and are sorry you did, don’t sweat it. They’ll return for Riot Fest, and the band is working on a new album that should include a subsequent tour. If Failure can continue on the path they are on, they should be able to astound audiences for a while.