Download: Handsome Furs - "I'm Confused"
It would have been justified to have those vague feelings of deja vu as the evening began, after all, the day, venue and opener were all the same as the last time the Handsome Furs were in town. Those feelings would have no place to linger though. While the last outing offered up a glimpse at their upcoming album, this show was almost exclusively new material. With the proper release of Face Control, out on SubPop, Dan Boeckner and wife, the perpetually photogenic Alexi Perry, dealt us a heavy dose of new material and the sold out crowd received it like a junkie in serious need of a score.
There was a distinct feeling in the air of "time lagging" awaiting the Handsome Furs (the band that gets us excited about press photos again.) We got two openers, rather than the one as expected and there were delays in between bands that simply felt longer than necessary. But, when they finally took the stage, if there is one thing the Handsome Furs can do, it is introduce some urgency to an evening. With the opening notes of "Legal Tender," the hour glass was flipped and the evening began anew. Then, "Talking Hotel Arbat Blues," with its stomping electronic rhythm that slowly pushes you face to face with a searing, crystalline guitar hook sure to singe the hairs that now stand straight on the back of your neck. They kept with the new, rolling out "Evangeline," "I'm Confused" and "All We Want, Baby, Is Everything," which is arguably the best track on the new album and undoubtedly the catchiest. The reception between songs was pretty overwhelming, as even the band seemed slightly taken back with each applause, prompting Dan Boecker to respond with, "We were talking about the intimidating places to play earlier, LA, New York and Chicago. Only, in LA you don't really care about the people you are playing for and New York is like 50/50, but you guys are pretty cool here." Which, in the moment, sounded assuredly more sincere and less hokey than it reads.
After a quick break the band came back into the now sweat filled heat box and played through a couple of more songs, closing with the pulsating, uptempo "Dead + Rural" from Plague Park. The band played surprisingly little from the first album, but the setlist is of no real importance within the performance. Every song they have, when delivered live, takes on a new life and feels in some way more epic. Every aspect of the performance is direct, immediate and pure. The limitations of their music, given it is a guitar and drum machine, are absent on stage. The formula is so utterly simple yet the possibilities seem endless.