Faust Live

Dan Sumption

The Faust Pages, 1998

Dan sent me this extract from a letter he wrote to a friend

... another item discovered in my clearout is the ticket to their reunion gig (1993 if I remember rightly - their first gig in 18 years or something like that). It was Amaaazing! Pneumatic drills and chainsaw drills percussion, the room was thick with petrol smoke by the end of the evening, and the bass player had carved up half the stage with a chainsaw. The second, a year or two later, was rather a disappointment - it was actually Tony Conrad's gig, with Faust guesting. Conrad and two or three others played cellos & violins, just one note, while the bass player from Faust also repeated that one note and the percussionist clinked a sledgehammer on a metal block - this went on for about 90 minutes, and started to get a little irritating. I'm sure it made some kind of great statement though ;-)

The most recent gig, about a year ago, was the most amazing yet. I was right at the front, which was caged off in a sem-circle about 3 metres around the stage, because within the cage was a woman welding bits of metal together and apart - sparks and smoke everywhere, really intense with the music. The audience was split up by large white cloths hanging from the ceiling, which everyone spontaneously ripped down a short way into the set. Then a little further on the singer/bassist (wish I knew their names) stripped off all his clothes and jumped into the audience, to emerge on the other side (I managed to get up close again) where something wall-like was covered with a sheet. He ripped it off - it was a wall of 12" singles with plain white covers. He got loads of pots of paints and rollers/brushes on long sticks and started going mad on the records, which were sold off at the end, while the band played on.

He got more and more frenzied until he was tipping paint on his body and throwing himself at the records, rolling around and slopping the stuff everywhere with his hands. After a quick clean-up and some more music, he came back into the audience for the final sheet-covered item - some large object in the middle of the floor which everyone had been maneuvering around all night (some quick moves, plus the timidity of some people there, meant that again I could get in close). He ripped the sheet off to reveal some kind of wind machine, looked like a 1930s farming implement. It was pointed through the audience towards the stage (it was about half-way back in the hall) and he leapt on top and fired it up - intense wind blowing people away from it. He rode the machine as if it were a wild animal, then started throwing things into the top (it was shaped a little like a meat-grinder, but with a very long passage for the meat to come out) - he was passed some black dustbin bags and moved around theatrically on the machine before emptying their contents into the chamber - sackloads of dead leaves pelted the audience at 200 miles-per-hour. When these were all done, people started passing up the shreds of the various white cloths which were now littering the place, and he fed them through - bits got caught in the entrance, and the machine now had long white streamers snaking wildly out from it.

Needless to say there was plenty more to going on to excite the eyes, ears and heart, most of it at least felt reasonably life-threatening and I'm sure that this added greatly to the thrill. It was a night the like of which I have never seen before, and would dearly love to see again (except, of course, it would be much less fun without the element of surprise). I'd seen the Disposable Heros of HipHoprisy at the same venue a couple of years before, and they put on a damned good show, but nothing could approach this!

Dan Sumption, "Faust Live", The Faust Pages 1998

ref: Dan Sumption