Review: Failure w/ Queen Kwong | 7.21.15 at 3rd & Lindsley

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Failure
w/ Queen Kwong

3rd & Lindsley; Nashville, TN
July 21, 2015

Review by Jackson Lord. 

On Tuesday, cult ’90s grunge trio Failure played their first set in Nashville since their reunion last year at 3rd & Lindsley with support from L.A. quartet Queen Kwong. In short, it was an incredible night, filled with positive excitement and contagious nostalgia that was intoxicating. Find out why in our full review of the show after the jump.

In typical rock ‘n’ roll fashion, Queen Kwong took the stage, with no announcement or fanfare, welcomed by a half-full but enthusiastic 3rd & Lindsley. A man in a black button-up, black jeans, and white socks sat behind the drum kit and proceeded to wail on the drums for a full 2 minutes before his bandmates joined him on stage to open the set. The first time I listened to Queen Kwong, I thought it was okay. Good music, but their recordings lack the punch that gives punk rock its edge. Live, that is not the case. Live, Queen Kwong are eerie, unbearably and awesomely loud, and just damn wild. During “Cold Daggers,” frontwoman Carré Callaway half-sprinted, half-convulsed across the stage, flinging her arms while she whispered some lines and shrieked others. She is easily the nucleus of the band, and her charisma was contagious. About half-way through their set, she picked up a guitar for a bitingly witty track, and her bandmates left the stage while she crooned through the haunting and lonely “Sucker.” Their set ended as abruptly as it had started, with her humming between heavy breaths, sitting on the shoulders of an audience member as guitarist Wes Borland (also of Limp Bizkit, randomly enough) started taking drums off the stage as they were still being played. It was weird and totally sick, but who knows, maybe they were just behind schedule. Queen Kwong wrangled in the audience, but everyone quickly remembered the real reason they were there.

Failure have had a planetary task on their hands for the past year. It was easy to tell (mainly by age) that some people had discovered the band upon their 2014 reunion, but there were others who were there in ’97 when the band broke up, and were still loyal fans (and still rocking soul patches and plaid shorts) after all this time. Any band can go on a reunion tour and people will eat it up, but putting out a new album after so long is bound to be a mixed bag. The band, of course, knew all of this, as they are a very calculating bunch (for example, their setlist had the lengths of the songs, the tempo of each song, and even the length of the break they would take before an encore). So, with baited breath the crowd waited for Failure to take the stage for what felt like hours. The only light in the room came from three video screens set up behind the drum kit and from a massive pedal board on each side of the stage. What was a bar half full of people eating burgers had turned into a packed house, and Failure, bathed in blue and purple light, met the crowd with a roar as they opened with heavy-hitters “Hot Traveler” and “A.M. Amnesia,” both of which are from their latest release The Heart is a Monster. They then took a step back and played “Frogs” and “Wet Gravity” off Magnitude before playing more new material.

Everything sounded perfect, every note perfectly in sync and every tone expertly crafted. Failure’s attention to detail just goes to show how important these shows are to them, and that is something that really came through throughout the set. They slowed things down with the transient “Mulholland Drive,” and guitarist Greg Edwards played piano while vocalist and bassist Ken Andrews took over on guitar, and he actually stayed on guitar for almost the whole remainder of their set, which was pretty cool. I was surprised and relieved that their new material was received so well, with almost as much excitement as some of the cuts from their older releases. The rest of their set was the first third of Fantastic Planet and the massive, hypnotic “Stuck On You,” one of their most popular songs and certainly a crowd pleaser. After this they walked off the stage, only to be called back on to play a (planned) four-song encore. this included “Macaque,” the only song they played off of their debut, along with “Heliotropic,” “Smoking Umbrellas,” and, the pinnacle of the evening, “The Nurse Who Loved Me.” New fans or old, it made no difference, everyone in the room was swept up in the nostalgia of the song as Ken Andrews mumbled “She acts just like a nurse,” and the crowd screamed, through massive grins, “with all the other guys!” It was a beautiful, simple moment from a band who specializes in making complicated noise. And even though I was just an observer, I could feel the joy radiate through that foggy bar as the audience and the band took a journey to the past together, like driving past a childhood home after growing up and moving away.

Setlist

Segue 4
Hot Traveler
A.M. Amnesia
Another Space Song
Wet Gravity
Frogs
Atom City Queen
Counterfeit Sky
Mulholland Drive
Saturday Saviour
Dirty Blue Balloons
Sergeant Politeness
Segue 1
Pillowhead
Stuck on You

Macaque
Smoking Umbrellas
The Nurse Who Loved Me
Heliotropic

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