Show Review: Faith No More with Jello Biafra and the Barbary Coast Cloggers at The Warfield, 4/13/10

by Gordon Elgart on April 14, 2010

Perhaps he's disgusted by a restaurant suggestion? Suggest a better one below!

If you went to the Warfield on Tuesday night to see Faith No More, you got to see a legend who hasn’t lost a step and a San Francisco institution blow the crowd away.

You also got to see Faith No More.

While billed as Faith No More concerts, this three-night Warfield run is playing more like a San Francisco vaudeville show, as befits the history of the Market Street theater. For tonight’s performance, the reunited band invited comedian/performance artist Neil Hamburger, Jello Biafra & the Guantanamo School of Medicine, and the Barbary Coast Cloggers to join them. And what a combination this was.

Neil Hamburger acted as the MC tonight, as he did last night, and this meant he told a few of his jokes, and then introduced each act. His act is pretty fascinating: he tells some of the most offensive jokes possible, and the crowd tends to react strongly to him. Sometimes people cheer the rape and drug addiction humor; sometimes, people boo and throw things at him. It’s interesting to watch a crowd respond to him that has never seen him before, but I don’t know why anyone would actually buy a ticket to see his own show. If everyone in the audience is in on the joke, there is no joke.

Jello Biafra & the Guantanamo School of Medicine were the openers, and from note one, they sounded amazing. Jello was as awesome as The Dead Kennedys without him are embarrassing. If you’re a Dead Kennedys fan, see this band and not the one still using the name. Biafra flopped around the stage, sang with power, and generally owned the moment. It was a bit disappointing that an all-out pit didn’t keep going the whole time, but “Holiday in Cambodia” and “California Uber Alles” got a decent crowd response.

I was unprepared for the next act, the Barbary Coast Cloggers, as was much of the crowd. It’s a Faith No More show, it’s after 9:00, a lot of people are drunk, and these guys come on stage:

As I watched their first number, with my mouth wide open in a giant smile, I worried about the crowd reaction. (On the previous night, Trannyshack filled the “wild card” slot on the bill and were not well received.) But when the song finished, only half a breath passed before the audience broke into spontaneous, overwhelming applause. It was amazing. By their finale, “Rocky Top,” (the one in the video above), there was clapping in time, and country/western-style hooting and hollering going on throughout the theater. Fellow Spinning Platters editor Dakin commented after their set, “This is one of the best shows I’ve ever seen, and Faith No More hasn’t even started!”

Now unlike last night’s reviewer, I had never seen Faith No More before this show, so I didn’t know what to expect. Back in the summer of 1991, I embarrassed many of my friends by screaming “Surprise! You’re Dead!” over and over again, especially after having my first beer. I loved The Real Thing, so I thought I was ready. So I was surprised to find out that while I like the Faith No More sound, I didn’t much care for the bulk of their material. It turns out I’m not a fan. So why did I enjoy the show so much?

I think the credit goes to the amazing cover song choices. Faith No More has long been known for interesting cover songs, from “War Pigs” to “Easy.” Just last night they had played the Bacharach/David classic, “This Guy’s in Love With You.” From their magic hat of covers this time, they pulled out three covers which were good, better and best. The good cover was the Bee Gee’s “I Started a Joke.” This was done fairly straight, and acted as a nice break in the otherwise aggressive set. Likewise, the better cover of Michael Jackson’s “Ben” should have been a mellow choice, but listening to Mike Patton channel his inner MJ was truly exciting.

The best cover came in the second encore, and this was the Sparks tune, “This Town Ain’t Big Enough For the Both of Us.” In this song, you can almost hear the seed of the band, from the prominent keyboards to the falsetto vocals to the surprisingly aggressive guitar riff, this song was practically made for Faith No More. Plus, Sparks isn’t the easiest band to see live — then again, neither is Faith No More — so hearing any band play such a faithful version is a total treat.

Happy, but a bit stiff

Musically speaking, Faith No More isn’t really all there. A wise man once said, and it has been repeated many times, that it doesn’t matter how good the band is if the drummer is bad. Not to say that Mike Bordin is bad, but he played a little sloppy and a lot stiff throughout the night. He was on front of the beat quite a bit, and someone who kept their eyes closed probably wouldn’t like what they heard. Lucky for me, I kept my eyes open, and glued to the magnetic Mike Patton.

Patton prowls around the stage, makes goofy faces, swallows the microphone, and watching him is the best part of the show. Last night, he again brought his cane with him, although he was not moving like someone who needed one. He’s a spectacular performer, and the between song banter within the band, and with the crowd, is often hilarious.

Toward the end of the show, he asked for a restaurant suggestion. Someone yelled out Mel’s Diner, to which Patton made an obscene gesture. Then, he called up a fan in a luchador mask to ask him where to eat. The man suggested Tu Lan, and some people started booing. Patton explained that Tu Lan is great, but added “if you lived around here, you’d know it’s closed now.” He never did get the suggestion, so please tell him where to eat in San Francisco, Tuesday at midnight, in the comments.

Faith No More, overall, looked really happy to be back, playing in front of family and friends in San Francisco. While I personally don’t feel their material has stood the test of time, these guys are really performers, especially Mike Patton, and you’re not going to be bored at one of their shows. Especially when they bring along such entertaining friends.

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Faith No More’s setlist from the Warfield on 4/13/10 (although they skipped “Edge of the World”)

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Thanks to Christopher Rogers for the photos on this post. He took photos last night, and wrote the review, which you can read here.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=P79HaOqsJg4

Gordon Elgart

A music nerd who probably uses that term too much. I have a deep love for bombastic, quirky and dynamic music.

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{ 6 comments… read them below or add one }

Edu April 14, 2010 at 8:26 pm

The concert was awesome and only in SF to get such a diverse collection of acts on the same bill.

As for a late meal, I’d definitely suggest Osha or Tommy’s Joynt…too bad he didn’t ask me.

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Brian April 15, 2010 at 1:25 am

Osha was first to come to my mind as well.

They skipped “A Small Victory” too. Shame, as it’s a rarity on this tour. Overall this was a pretty good, switched-up setlist though. Between the Tuesday & Wednesday shows, fans heard most everything they’ve been playing regularly lately, and then some. I skipped the Monday show and the only songs I didn’t get to see at least once were “Easy” and “This Guy’s In Love With You”. Not a big loss for this fan- I like the occasional cover, but they’re much more satisfying when they’re surprises, which neither of those two choices would have been. “Ben” on the other hand, was a fun surprise, as was “This Town Ain’t Big Enough For The Both Of Us” (which I must admit I didn’t recognize. I’m barely familiar with Sparks).

By now you probably have heard that the biggest surprise of Wednesday’s show was the appearance of none other than Chuck Mosely, who not only fronted the entire 1st encore, but did a duet with Patton during the second. I guess this town IS big enough for the both of them!

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Brendan April 15, 2010 at 12:00 pm

2nd greatest show of all time….only beat BY Tool at the Berk Comm Theater in 2002

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Alan April 15, 2010 at 2:53 pm

I had an aftershow pass for this 2nd show. On my way out, I saw Mike Bordin — we have a mutual friend so he was kind enough to spend a moment with me.

After explaining to him that Monday and Tuesday were the best shows of the year, he thanked me and then said that he had problems with his drumming and/or equipment and then said something like ‘sometimes you win, sometimes you don’t’ so he was aware that any fault in the music was on him.

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Mikeless April 19, 2010 at 10:49 pm

It was the best show ever! But, I don’t recall that they played edge of the world?

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Paul Rosenquist February 23, 2011 at 10:03 am

Mike Bordin is a genious behind the band. Being a drummer (has been) listening to FNM with good headphones is just like therapy. Live he just to give the whole gig such nrg that they just killed anything! Now I think the years are starting to show and Mike is laying back…playing not so hard anymore, taking shortcuts in the fantastic rythms he has created and doing an ok job…that unfortunately isnt good enough. Play less often and play harder would be my advise. But hey..I’m so stoked theyr back again! Musically not there…what the heck are your saying?… Musically never even challanged by anyone..in this genre. My opinion. songwriting, lyrics, vocals, rythm section (bass/drums), guitar, keys, all..way out there!

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