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Ladytron w/ The Faint and Telepathe @ The Turner Hall Ballroom

April 1, 2009

Apr. 2, 2009
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It’s a stretch to call what the Brooklyn electronic duo Telepathe does in concert “performing.” “Existing,” perhaps. Or maybe “standing.” They definitely stood on stage, so that’s something. But performing? At least at their appearance at the Turner Hall Ballroom last night, there was no performance to speak of.

In the right hands, a laptop can be as commanding an instrument as a guitar, but only when supplemented with showmanship, something the ladies of Telepathe don’t bring to the table. Both sing, kind of, but their voices are so tiny they’re drowned out by their own thundering backing tracks. One hits a drum occasionally, but that too is mostly inaudible. Mostly they just stand and stare, motionless and monotone, while their laptop performs for them.

Taking cues from the women on stage, Wednesday’s crowd stood stationary as trees, with visible discomfort. The tragedy is that Telepathe actually wanted to move the crowd, they just didn’t have the slightest idea how to make it happen. For their set’s mortifying finale, one of the women even promised to join the crowd to get them dancing, but when she stepped off stage she was greeted by an up-close look at the sullen, immobile mass she’d created. There was none of the promised dancing. She just stood there, as she had on stage only now with an air of shame, unable to even look her audience in the face.

The Faint, one of a half-dozen or so Omaha acts for whom the Pabst Theater Foundation always leaves open its door, lightened the mood immeasurably with their hard-driving synth-rock, which swells to Daft Punk proportions in concert. Where Telepathe had been swallowed by the Turner Hall Ballroom’s cavernous stage, The Faint filled every inch of it, the band’s wired players forming silhouettes against an epileptic light show and colorful, music-video projections. The crowd convulsed in unison with the group.

Headliners Ladytron one-upped even The Faint’s glossy set-up with a budget-breaking light show bright enough to light a football field. But for all the firepower, their set was an odd reflection of Telepathe’s barren death march. Strip away their crack touring band and elaborate stage design, and the dual singers of Ladytron are no different than those of Telepathe: Two slight, uncharismatic women with meek voices and no discernible personality, who intentionally or not erect an icy wall between themselves and the audience.

Photo credit: CJ Foeckler


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