Mike Patton is one of the biggest assholes around. He once taunted a New York crowd while wearing his Laker’s jersey post-9/11. He stopped an interview mid-sentence at a festival to bash Wolfmother. On July 5th at the Williamsburg Waterfront in Brooklyn, Patton and a reunited Faith No More mocked the crowd between each song, joking about broken down subway service, the dirty East River, and all the dirty hipsters in the crowd. The band even did a tongue-in-cheek cover of Michael Jackson’s “Ben” just days after the one-year anniversary of his death. Whether you are offended by Patton’s insults and condescending behavior or not, there is no denying his prolific career. With nearly 30 albums with over a dozen music projects, the 42-year old Patton may be the most diverse musician of our generation. He’s worked with avant-guard legend John Zorn, Bjork, Rahzel from the Roots, Massive Attack, Norah Jones, Melvins, Sepultura, Buckethead, Dan the Automator, Handsome Boy Modeling School, The Dillinger Escape Plan, The X-Ecutioners, John Kaada, John Stanier, Dave Lombardo and dozens of others. He’s even sung Italian opera on several solo albums and voiced the howls and screams of the sick, vampire-like monsters in I Am Legend. Patton joined Faith No More in 1989 partly as a way to promote his high school band, Mr. Bungle (see Patton’s Mr. Bungle t-shirt in the music video for “Epic;” they really hate playing it).
Faith No More played a flawless set in Brooklyn, and Patton’s voice was better than ever. I’m not sure there is anyone else out there that can scream for 20 minutes and seamlessly segue into a cover of Lionel Richie’s “Easy” while hitting every note perfectly. An immediate highlight for me was the antagonistic performance of my favorite FNM track, “The Gentle Art of Making Enemies”:
The crowd of 7,500 or so fans that collected at the Waterfront on a 100 degree day were unsurprisingly lame: a mix between 30- and 40-somethings who have yet to move on from the 80s and a sea of hipsters who were there just because the show was in Brooklyn. The alcoholics were cordoned-off behind a barricaded area that employed a beer-for-tickets system. That crowd seemed slightly more motivated. One individual even started a one-man mosh pit with himself, spilling beer on hoards of fans, including myself. In an effort to avoid a confrontation that I might regret, we moved to the “tame” side, which featured local stands selling art and other “hipster” paraphenelia. Smart marketing it was not.
The band invited Rahzel on stage to beatbox during several tracks, which worked generally well. The second encore featured another favorite track of mine off of the band’s Album of the Year record. Although the band’s performance surpassed all expectations, the heat wave, the festival-like atmosphere, and the disingenuous and annoying crowd interfered with all intended nostalgia we may have been seeking. As usual, we’ll look for Patton’s “asshole” tactics and next project in an underground club in the city sometime soon. Jim Morrison or Kurt Cobain would have to come back from the dead for me to attend another Waterfront show.