[VIDEO] FAUST – Live Soundtrack to the US Presidential Debates
“HAVE YOU EVER PARTICIPATED IN A GENOCIDE?” a wide-eyed Jean Hervé-Péron asked a roomful of enraptured onlookers. “YES,” he answered himself, with a near-maniacal grin. “AND SO HAVE YOU.” As the improvised cacophony swelled around him, abstracted, acid-damaged images of Mitt Romney and Barack Obama arose and melted away like candied phantoms emerging from a zig-zagged field of processed video feedback.
I’m admittedly biased, since I had something to do with coaxing the event into existence in the first place, but I’m fairly certain that I just witnessed history being made. Faust—yes that Faust, the sublimely absurdist German “krautrock” band—just performed a concert that opened with an improvised soundtrack to a live feed of the US presidential debates, psychedelicized by Hair and Space Museum (the multimedia duo comprised of David Golightly and myself.)
The happening happened at the Comet Tavern, a Seattle dive bar that barely accommodates 150 patrons (a far cry from the music halls that Faust has commanded in Europe for decades). It came together at the last moment as the result of a half-joking fantasy about how to best spend the day off that Faust had to kill between scheduled Seattle and Vancouver shows. (My band Midday Veil played both shows with Faust. I am infinitely humbled by the opportunity to spend time with these amazing artists.)
If it weren’t for Faust, many people in the room would have probably been at a regular bar watching the debates for real, myself included, but I think this actually may have been the more informative way to experience them. There was a moment during the set, when Jean-Hervé was singing into the cement mixer, the sound of gravel nearly drowning out his voice as a horrific, hot-pink Romney floated ominously overhead, when I thought to myself, “Huh. This may well be the single most inspiring artistic performance I’ll ever witness.”
Later, back at our house where we were all staying, I asked Jean-Hérvé about the “genocide” lyric…is that a Faust song? What album is it from? He tells me it was made up on the spot. Perfect. (He also just told me to adjust this photo of him chainsawing through polystyrene to make it black and white. I did, and he likes it better this way.)
The chainsaw-and-polystyrene is an important part of Faust’s live act. The other day, David made some calls to Vancouver in an attempt to source a sheet for Wednesday night’s show. “No, we don’t have Styrofoam, and you shouldn’t buy it,” snapped a Canadian hardware shopkeep, who then hung up on him.
(He’s right, of course. But mere morality is not applicable here. Faust is as excessive, decadent, creative, destructive, and monstrously holy as Western Civilization itself.)
Anyway. Here’s some video from Tuesday night’s show at the Comet. I’ll upload more later, including some video of David jamming onstage with Faust in Vancouver.
Ian Buck also took some wonderfully surreal photos of Monday night’s show. (More here: ianbuck.tumblr.com.)
*** THANK YOU *** so much to everyone who helped Faust by loaning gear, sourcing random industrial supplies, and contributing art and music to these amazing shows, especially Michelle Smith, The Comet Tavern, Dull Knife, Jamie Potter, David Davila, Benjamin-Thomas Kennedy, Amy Denio, David “Skip” Milford, Valerie Calano (DJ Explorateur), Dave Segal, Steve Wilson, Mike Newman, Daniel Presnell and Joshua Stevenson of Von Bingen, The Waldorf Hotel, and my Midday Veil bandmates David Golightly, Timm Mason, Jayson Kochan, Sam Yoder and Garrett Moore. This week has been a truly humbling coming together of an amazing community.