Live Shots: Failure

Emo's, July 25

photo by David Brendan Hall

Even if you have no interest in reunited Nineties act Failure, you have to admire its grunge. Obsession with audio excellence marks both the L.A. trio's albums and performances, and this sound mix might have been the best ever at Emo's. No matter how loud the band got, each instrument occupied its own articulated space, with vocals clearly heard. Leading off with the brief "Segue 4," frisky "Hot Traveler," and psych rocker "A.M. Amnesia," openers for new LP The Heart is a Monster, Failure demonstrated all the traits that fellow travelers from their initial era took to the bank: husky vocals, slow but driving tempos, melodic hooks pulled from acidic guitar dissonance. Monster tracks including the noisemongering "Atom City Queen" and dreamy "Mulholland Drive" hit all the marks. The fortysomething crowd responded accordingly, treating new tunes like old classics, but Failure knew what its audience really came to hear. The 10 songs from 1996's Fantastic Planet, over half the set list, garnered the most rapturous reaction, especially the languorous crunch of "Dirty Blue Balloons" and power balladry of "The Nurse Who Loved Me."

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