Feature: Falling In Love With Failure
Wed, 26 Mar 2014 10:16:13
I never realized how much I loved Failure until I had the privilege of seeing them live. It’s on stage that the groundbreaking nature of the Los Angeles group crystallizes. In the nineties, Failure fused thick chugging guitars, a wash of effects, and an otherworldly melodic delivery together, effectively establishing a blueprint for Arctic Monkeys, Queens of the Stone Age, Interpol, and nearly every other band hipsters revere in 2014. Guess what? Ken Andrews, Greg Edwards, and Kelli Scott started doing this in 1992 with Failure’s debut, Comfort. Oddly though, this is now their moment, and they deserve it. We’ll pay witness to everyone coming out of the woodwork and saying they were a fan since day one, and that’s okay.
Last night during the group’s support set for Tool in Houston, the night began with a clip from René Laloux’s 1973 opus Fantastic Planet. It set the tone with its warm textures and thinly veiled emotionality behind an alien visage. The same could be said for the trio’s music. “Let It Drop” hid a strangely saccharine hook behind gushing robust guitars, while “Macaque” truly patented “Robot Rock” as Andrews churned out a propulsive six-string gallop in tandem with his immediately recognizable croon. Fantastic Planet epic “Smoking Umbrellas” practically floated through the Houston sky bounced upwards by Scott’s immense pounding and a bass wallop from Edwards. It’s rare for just three men to conjure this much raw power and sound so seamlessly, but they do it.
Andrews set the template for nearly every modern frontman you see. Jared Leto nods to him with his slick banter and space rock posturing in Thirty Seconds to Mars, and that’s something more people need to recognize. These cats were doing everything considered “cool” now back in the early nineties. “Sergeant Politeness” swayed from a swaggering guitar grind into one of the evening’s most anthemic hooks before dipping back into a spaced-out bridge that proved as psychedelic as it was psychotic. Again, it’s impressive just three dudes with no men-behind-the-curtain could be this sonically massive and all-encompassing.
That’s what Failure’s set was really about though—an embrace. As Andrews took the bass during a buoyant "Heliotropic", it felt comforting to fall into the music’s rapture, though its suffocation through distortion remained just as blissful. Open your arms to Failure now, and they might just be your new favorite band.
Chances are you’ll love every second of it, especially after that first chord hit.
Have you heard or seen Failure?
Photo credit: Priscilla Chavez