Interpol at First Avenue, 8/14/10

August 14, 2010
First Avenue

They looked a little bit different this time, but there was no mistaking it: Interpol are still Interpol. After now-former bassist (and by far the most recognizable band member) Carlos D quietly exited stage left this past May, it was a little unclear how that void would be filled. However, while the addition of David Pajo (Slint and Tortoise, among many others) gives the band an obviously different look and feel, it could and should be argued that the addition, along with touring keyboardist Brandon Curtis of the Secret Machines, has strengthened the lineup considerably. Pajo, while falling in line with Interpol's closely-tailored vintage suit look, was no-frills and full steam ahead--an anti-Carlos D, if you will. But this was all relatively minor--there was a rock show to be had.

They opened with the brand new "Success" from their forthcoming self-titled release (which arrives next month) and only played two other songs from it, "Summer Well" and "Lights". While that may have been a disappointment to some, their setlist will most likely have a new look in the coming weeks and we'll get to hear more as they almost undoubtedly will come back early this winter. In reality, there wasn't much to complain about song-wise. They ran through a list of what could be described as "best of" as the crowd was treated to such gems as "Not Even Jail," "Hands Away," and "PDA," among others. The set was tight with little talk between songs and singer/guitarist Paul Banks, while not a David Lee Roth-type frontman by any stretch, was quietly in command of the stage (and the show) the entire time.

There has been a spectre haunting Interpol for virtually as long as they have been a band: they are not animated on stage. This is somewhat baffling, as they are not a boy-band but still the complaints continue. But there is a counterpoint to this that should be taken into consideration: Interpol's songs are often dark and brooding in nature with lyrics that paint odd, sometimes bleak portraits of life in myriad harsh or compromising circumstances. Dancing or jumping around during many of these songs would cheapen them in a way, lessen the intended impact. They have a definite, unique stage presence with lights that conjure thoughts of a small, run-down airfield accompanying it all--that's the show and that should be enough.

It's been eight years since Turn On The Bright Lights arrived surrounded by so much hype it seemed almost impossible to live up to even a fraction of it. While it was a great album, it screamed "flash in the pan." As the Strokes were being crowned the kings of New York, it seemed as though Interpol might become the peasants. But Interpol have endured and mostly followed through on that hype to become an entity all their own. They've had some adversity in recent months, but seem to have come through that mostly unscathed, as well. If the Strokes are the kings on New York, Interpol are poised to become it's Teflon Dons.

Personal bias: I was always a little annoyed by Carlos D.
The crowd: Almost too hip for it's own good (there were two girls in attendance dressed as Ramona from Scott Pilgrim Vs. The World.)
Overheard in the crowd: Multiple shouted requests for "Obstacle 1" (they didn't play it.)
Random notebook dump: Less concerned with being/looking hip than with crafting good songs.


Say Hello To The Angels
Leif Erikson
Summer Well
Rest My Chemistry
Hands Away
Take You On A Cruise
Not Even Jail

The Lighthouse
Stella Was A Diver And She Was Always Down

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