I frickin’ love Wolf Parade. When I’m deaf at thirty, fifty-three percent of the blame will lay with these past few months and my obsession with these nascent northern lads. They aren’t the neatest, most talented group, and most of their praise is presently founded in buzz, in everyone’s rush to discover the next Arcade Fire before anyone else; still, there’s something intriguing in their sound, and while they certainly have a long way to go, it’s already obvious that this is a band that will be delectable for years to come, providing they find a way to keep together their style that sounds moments from breaking apart.
The band in question came out around midnight to face a ravenous, sold-out crowd. Guitarist and vocalist Dan Boeckner declared that they were going to try to “play pretty” for us. Oh the irony. Wolf Parade’s music is anything but pretty. It’s uncomfortable and messy at best. They began with “It’s A Curse,” the dark rocker that has Boeckner singing like he simultaneously wants to be a bubble gum pop star and a metal thrasher. “Dear Sons and Daughters of Hungry Ghost,” a personal favorite featuring the neurotic warble of Spencer Krug, came up next. They played at a manic pace that had me screaming out my new mantra (“But God doesn’t always have the best goddamned plans, does he?”) like I was a dejected high school kid on speed.
“We Built Another World” had Boeckner and Krug passing vocals back and forth like jaded lovers, and I realized that in this relationship lies a great deal of what makes these guys so damn hot. There’s something disconnected about their sound: whereas other bands with two principle, competing songwriters take either the early Lennon/McCartney approach (complete cohesion) or late Lennon/McCartney approach (total separation), these two come together magnetically like they desperately want to kill each other. This disjointed quality creates tension, a passive-aggressiveness that translates into something alluring as hell. Throughout the show Boeckner and Krug didn’t talk to each other, didn’t look at each other. They stayed on opposite ends of the stage and most of the time it seemed that they were playing two different songs, with Boeckner banging around stage like the punk rock god he’s probably imagined himself becoming since he was ten, and Krug seated behind his keys playing more subdued and intently. During the closer, “Dinner Bells,” Krug was in his own little peaceful world, singing his ballad, eyes closed so he did not see the rest of the band going haywire, pounding guitar, banging the hell out of drums and tambourine and even wind chimes like they were pissed off that Krug was making them play such a sissy song.
They played for about an hour, running through most of Apologies to the Queen Mary, adding for the encore “Disco Sheets” from their self-titled e.p. They also included four tracks unreleased by Sub Pop, which were relieving in their revelation that the band has material waiting in the wings that is as energetic as anything they‘ve already put out.
Wolf Parade is already relatively huge. Their album has only been out for three weeks, but it was familiar to most of the people in Schubas Friday night. “I’ll Believe in Anything” and “You Are a Runner and I am My Father’s Son” set off the crowd as if they were tunes it had been waiting years to hear played live. Some enthusiastic fans already know all of the words (Is it wrong to admit that I am one of them?). As big and buzzy as they are right now, they are only going to grow in popularity. I don’t want them to. Not only for my normally selfish reasons, but because I don’t think it will be possible for them to function in their present state on a larger scale. This is a live band. On stage they lack all the musical awkwardness that is apparent on their recorded material. Their energy is so raw and fragile that I don’t see it holding up at an auditorium-level. I’m sure they’ll be able to stay together as a band-- indie kids are going to flock en masse to these guys-- but I don’t think they’ll be able to maintain that enticing vigor I witnessed this past weekend at the back of a bar on Southport.
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