New York Times May 17, 1995

New York Times May 17, 1995

Faith No More at Roseland

May 16, 1995, Being Smart About Music That Isn't

By Neil Strauss

Faith No More plays dumb rock smartly. On Saturday night at a sold-out concert at Roseland, the band performed the sappiest soft-rock, the stiffest hip-hop and the most testosterone-fueled heavy metal. But within each song, Faith No More subverted the genre, getting playful, experimental or just plain weird. At times its vocalist, Mike Patton, played the clown, singing as he flipped in the air and landed on his rear; sometimes he played the scientist, turning his microphone into an instrument by holding it close to the stage monitors and modulating the feedback.

Eclectic rock is probably the most apt description of Faith No More's music. Though the following it has gathered during its 10-year career has been mostly fans of punk and hard rock, ready to slam-dance at the slightest guitar riff, Faith No More has never been afraid to alienate them. It may have come close to doing that on Saturday during a 100-minute set that constantly pumped up the audience with fast funk-metal numbers and then let the air out with crooning lounge-rock. But such unpredictability, especially when delivered with unflagging energy, made for an engaging show.

Mr. Patton contorted his body for each of his different singing styles, hunching over the microphone to scream and babble nonsense words (a style he probably picked up from listening to Japanese hardcore), puffing up his chest and extending his arms for theatrical crooning, bending his head back into the light to sing in a deep gothic-rock bellow and throwing his body all over the stage to accentuate his hard-rock wailing. Roddy Bottum kept pace with Mr. Patton on the synthesizer, playing house-music piano, New Age swooshes, Chopinesque melodies and danced-up new wave. Billy Gould's hard-slapped bass and the funk and metal riffs of the band's new guitarist, Dean Menta, made for a modicum of consistency.

Faith No More's selection of material was expansive, ranging from a contemporary dance track by Portishead ("Glory Box") to a classic AM radio ballad by the Commodores ("Easy") to its own "We Care a Lot," the popular joke rap that threatened to eclipse the band early in its career. Performing songs from its new album, "King for a Day, Fool for a Lifetime" (Slash/Reprise), its lyrics ranged from poetic regret in the country ballad "Take This Bottle" to blunt violence in "The Gentle Art of Making Enemies." "Happy birthday," Mr. Patton growled in his stupidest, most macho voice to an enemy-to-be during the latter song. "You blow that candle out/We're going to kick you."

Thanks to Chris Lindsay.

Source: Chris Lindsay
© 1995-2001,2011-2012 Stefan Negele