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Faith No More // LIVE @ MSG Theater // 8.5.15

Article by: Steven Principato
Featured Image: Dustin Rabin Photography


Looking back..

July, 1992

I had just turned 14 and there I was, at the concert of a lifetime. The lineup was considered legendary at the time; Metallica/Guns and Roses, and opening for these opposing musical monoliths was a band in near vertical meteoric rise to mainstream fame, Faith No More. FNM had actually been in existence since the ’80s, however as the result (or consequence) of their groundbreaking and radio friendly rap-metal amalgamation titled Epic, they were an obvious choice as an opener for two of the most iconic bands of the ’90s.

Naturally, the young and naive mullet-headed me was there to see Metallica. I didn’t mind GnR, however, had already been somewhat jaded by GnR’s infamous frontman’s prima don-esqe antics. I could take them or leave them. On that night, I expected to leave the once in a lifetime concert having witnessed rock and roll history, but as I climbed into my dad’s minivan in front of the now long-demolished Giants Stadium, only one of those bands left a lasting impression on my musical psyche. That band was Faith No More. As for the headlining rock stars, Metallica was on par with the usual Metallica performance, and I actually didn’t even bother staying for GnR.

As the ’90s marched on, FNM exploded into MTV-approved video victims, whether reluctantly or otherwise, the eclectic group temporarily carved smiles onto record execs’ faces for the better part of the decade. Then one day, the Murphy’s Law equivalent in the rock and roll universe took effect. In decline over lineup changes and lackluster mainstream enthusiasm, and the fact the Mike Patton had far more interesting side projects to tackle, the band abruptly imploded. Not surprisingly, a parallel to many similarly popular ’90s acts, they weren’t able to survive “the grunge era” intact.

Fast forward…

Aug 2015

Here I am now, over 20 years later and I’m witnessing FNM once again. There are no flying cars, no robots… and absolutely no GnR in this reality. Axl is fat and no one cares. Metallica, on the other hand, stopped drinking and has became more important to the fans than Jesus. Who saw that coming?

Interestingly enough, FNM had reunited a number of years ago for the purpose of live performance and have finally released their first new album in 16 years: Sol Invictus.

“MSG is for Hockey and Billy Joel”

The concert, which I was so eagerly looking forward to, unfortunately did not start on a good note. For starters, the original show had been canceled, then (wisely) changed from Madison Square Garden stadium to MSG theater. Unfortunately, all previously purchased tickets had been canceled and needed to be repurchased. Perhaps the promoters realized despite the band’s continued popularity, FNM lacked the mainstream influence required to actually sell out 18,000 seats! To quote our favorite FNM member Roddy Bottum, “MSG is only for hockey and Billy Joel.”

After wading through a murky sea of venue changing confusion, myself and 5000 other FNM fans arrived at MSG Theater. Opening the show was recently reunited ’90s alumni, Swedish hardcore act Refused. To my pleasant surprise, a majority of those in attendance did so for the sole purpose of actually supporting this obscure Scandinavian act. To my amazement, Refused’s  rage-fueled performance erased any notion of a socially responsible, middle-aged group of Swedish men who enjoy group saunas and skiing. Let’s face it, the Swedes just know how to write a catchy tune… Abba, Europe, and Ghost to mention a few examples. Can you consciously hate Swedish music? I think not.

Promptly following Refused, The headlining FNM took to a white backdropped stage (though I heard they sometimes unpredictably don black) their amplifiers covered in colorful floral bouquets. One could only interpret their gentle stage visuals as that of a beachfront tropical wedding (or funeral?)

Image by: Darkroom Photography

To my own surprise, MSG theater was booked to capacity. Faith No More’s setlist was an eclectic and balanced mix of new and old, satisfying the desires of casual and die-hard fans. FNM dared not shun old time mainstream staples such as rap-metal breakthrough Epic, Commodores cover song “Easy,” and the Angel Dust album hit single, “Mid life Crisis.” Hearing these bygone top-ten charters in living color brought back a sense of ’90s high school nostalgia, complete with dyed hair, combat boots, and ditching prom. As expected, FNM left no loose ends in their highly energetic performance.

A loungy, disco-lit interlude of elevated “Midlife Crisis” encouraged an already enthusiastic crowd to gleefully sing along. Mike Patton’s tambourine shaking performance of my personal favorite track, “Black Friday,” allowed Roddy Bottum (one of my favorite names in rock and roll) to show off his acoustic guitar strumming chops while the crowd bounced along. Patton’s infinite range of vocal timbres were never once off key (as one would expect from the master himself). The constant music flow was only bracketed by the devilishly grinned Patton’s sardonically humorous dialogue, enjoying a recurring theme regarding Lenny Kravitz’s recently escaped penis. (No worries, as It was safely recaptured and no one was harmed) The rhythm section was comprised of the slap-happy, funk-tacular bass playing of founding member Billy Gould and the unorthodox open-handed drumming style of one-time Ozzy Osbourne drummer, Mike Bordin.

Returning from their final album lineup, guitarist John Hudson covered the signature guitar-crunch powering nearly all FNM tracks. Last but not least, Roddy belted out the unmistakable piano accompaniments, offering his signature ominous compliments, nearly giving identity to every track in the FNM catalogue, as well as pulling double duty with occasional vocals. As previously described, the ritualistic white-draped stage (and band) allowed for a virtual canvas effect where stage lighting could be used as a sort of colorful art medium. Whether this was intentional or not, the effect only added to a rather spectacular night of music.

FInishing the the show with an obligatory 3 song encore, the band left the stage to the roars of the 5000 fans. As each member left the stage with sincere gratitude, legendary drummer Mike Bordin personally handed out drumsticks to specific fans. What a guy! With that in mind, FNM’s performance was one of tremendous respect to the fans and their own artform. In a world of commercialised reconditioned retro acts, revived for the sole purpose of charging their desperate fans 100+ dollars for even a shitty seat, FNM rises above. (But still, those Ticketmaster fees, yeesh.) As such undeniably eclectic and multi-talented artists, Faith No More is a breath of fresh air amidst the foul-smelling atmosphere of financially-forced reunions of has-been superbands previously mentioned. We, the music snobs, are grateful for Faith No More’s return and support their continued reunion.


Setlist: AUG 5th, MSG Theater


Check out FNM on their North American Tour at these venues near you:

September 6 Bumbershoot Festival Seattle, WA United States
September 8 Red Rocks Amphitheatre Denver, CO United States
September 11-13 Riot Fest Chicago, IL United States


Steven Principato
Steven Principato is our resident music historian and unofficial metal corespondent. Besides trying not to get his photo gear smashed in the pit, you might otherwise find him obsessing about obscure musical details. It happens to be Steven's eventual goal to be on stage IN the concert photo rather than the one taking it.