Fantomas Baffles In Live Debut

It was not your usual show.

Mike Patton, former lead singer of Faith No More, debuted his new group, Fantomas, last night in his home town of San Francisco. An avante-garde metal super-group of sorts, the band played a little over an hour of music that did not resemble the sound of any of the band member’s previous groups, including Faith No More, Slayer, the Melvins, and Patton’s other project, Mr. Bungle.

The sold-out show at Slim’s consisted of about 30 short songs with non-traditional structures and rhythm patterns. Patton stood on the side of the stage, giving visual cues to the rest of the group in the style of a classical conductor. He performed less as the frontman of a group and more as simply one of the instruments, alternatively shrieking, roaring, yelping, and belting out very few sounds that resembled his more familiar vocal style.

Guitarist Buzz Osborne of the Melvins, ex-Slayer drummer Dave Lombardo, bassist Trevor Dunn of Mr. Bungle, and Patton took
turns at the center of the super-loud sound, delivering unpredictable and sporadic bursts of percussion and bass, experimental, noisy guitar licks, and irregular vocals.

Those in the audience who hadn’t come prepared with earplugs grappled with the auditory onslaught in different ways. Some plugged their ears. Others left in the middle of the show. A few banged their heads.

Throughout the evening, the crowd reaction ranged from intense enthusiasm at some moments, confusion or shock at others. There were a few requests to play something more familiar, and at one point an audience member yelled out to let the band know he was disappointed. Patton responded only with an undetermined gesture, saying nothing to the rest of the crowd until the last song.

“Thank you all so much for coming out to hear our first show. I hope you’re having a good time, even that guy,” Patton said graciously, referring to the one unhappy fan. “This is our last song, and I’m sure it’s
going to be a really big hit,” he added jokingly as the band launched into another of their cacophonic creations.

Fantomas will play another show in San Francisco this Sunday before taking their show to New York City early in July.