April 18, 2002

No Doubt

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As the audience for No Doubt grew steadily larger last Sunday, attending concert-goers were ushered into the show by the very danceable beats of The Faint.

Relatively obscure, but on their way up the musical ladder, the Nebraska five-some’s music is a mix of new wave electronica and alternative keyboards rifts. What made their sound catchy was its fusion of upbeat ’80s-influenced sounds with dark, more alternative-style undertones.

Two songs in particular, “Posed to Death” and “Glass Danse,” deserved attention and potentially another listen to. While most of the songs were lively, lead singer Todd Baechle, refused to put down the synthesized microphone and allow the audience to hear any of his inspired lyrics.

All and all, The Faint, garbed in all black as if they were on their way to a fraternity date night, were the band I would have started if my Casio keyboard had come with an 80,000 watt sub-woofer, the lanky white kids on the box, and a tube of black eye-liner.

After their set, members of The Faint helped dismantle their own equipment and made room for the ever more accomplished No Doubt.

This is where I would include quotes I got during my interview with No Doubt. Unfortunately, when I went to get that interview, the band decided they were uninterested. I spent all day filling my head with bits of useless No Doubt trivia and when it came time to put it to use, I was told to go home. Instead, still trying for an interview I waited outside the band’s ready room, banging on their window and trying to score at least one quote. That’s when pair of eyes peaked through the window, pulled up the blinds to waist level, and one of the band members proceeded to drop their pants and moon me. (Not Gwen) That being said, No Doubt’s official pre-show quote was, “Phhht.”

To the roar of a near-packed Barton Hall, the lights shot on and revealed an elaborate stage set-up complete with 30-foot tapestries and enormous light fixtures. To the more-than-seven-years-worth of fans in the front few rows, the only thing that could dwarf the set-up was, of course, the band.

Gwen on vocals, Tony Kanal on bass, Tom Dumont on guitar, and Adrian Young on drums. Accompanying the group were two synthesizer players who doubled on trumpet and trombone for select tracks.

Their first song, “Hella Good,” from the concert-namesake album, Rock Steady, sufficiently welcomed the crowd to the new sound of No Doubt. Still reliant on heavy guitar work, fun lyrics (“Let’s just keep on dancing”), and the star appeal of Gwen Stefani, the songs now carry heavier bass with hints of electronica flavoring and dance-pop rhythms. While the song helped pump the audience with energy, it was obvious that despite Rock Steady’s platinum status, crowds don’t know the new lyrics.

Fan’s there to see and sing along with the band they met back in 1995 were soon to have their moment. The band tore into “Sunday Morning,” the top 10 single off of the now 10x-platinum album Tragic Kingdom. Throwing fuel on the already burning crowd, Gwen raised the microphone into the air and gave the audience its chance sing. Gwen then stepped up and said hello to Ithaca.

For whatever reason, crowds go crazy when the talent on stage proves they know where they are. It makes the event feel more like the band has stopped by because they were in the neighborhood, and less like they’re visiting to pay for a new summer home. Before the crowd could simmer down, another wave of music rolled off the stage and crashed into the eager audience.

A surprise shot of musical adrenaline cranked through the audience when Gwen explained that she had been sick, and that it would make her feel better if every person in the arena would kindly start jumping up and down.

Miss Stefani’s use of the magic word prompted all 5,000 people in the crowd to follow her lead in a segment of the evening I dubbed “Follow the Bouncing Navel.” Gwen, “The Bellybutton Bernstein,” masterfully conducted her orchestra of screaming fans in what looked like a tribute to Winnie-the-Pooh’s Tigger.

The sea of a thousand hands throughout the song “New,” even managed to thoroughly impress Gwen. “You can’t even see how great you guys look with the