Wolf Parade at First Avenue, 7/18/10
Photos by Steve Cohen
July 18, 2010
Fresh off the heels of a stellar performance in Union Park as part of the Pitchfork Music Festival this past weekend, and in what many have claimed was the highlight of the hipster mecca, Wolf Parade stopped on by the First Avenue mainroom Sunday night to allow those of us without enough money or willpower to travel to Chicago a chance to see a band which has grown to define indie-rock and the good country of Canada.
Critic's bias right off the bat: I've got a teeny bit of a man-crush on dual lead Spencer Krug, and really everyone should. With keyboards in tow, set up front and center, the guy practically led the show into mind-blowing proportions, although Dan Boeckner helps the mix as well with a stage-presence you wouldn't expect from his tiny frame. In fact, the entire band lends something unique to the mix, and rightfully so with the plethora of acts they can be associated with; basically, I mean every freaky sounding band out of the North: Swan Lake , Frog Eyes , Handsome Furs , Fifths of Seven , and the glorious Sunset Rubdown .
What started as a haphazardly spaced crowd somehow managed to fill in pretty well for a Sunday night, a detail Krug and Boeckner consistently brought up as they thanked the audience for being there in between every song. Did they not expect a good turnout? I mean hell, they had three sponsors for this thing: MFR, Vita.mn, and Radio K. Whatever, let's not think about that because they are starting off their set with one of the best album openers of all time, "You Are a Runner and I Am My Father's Son," a song which alternately pissed me off and made me feel on top of the world in high-school. Krug is barking his trademark yelp and everyone is freaking out. We all know within 15 seconds that this one-and-a-half hour show is going to be brilliant.
Photos by Steve Cohen
Explaining that they'll be playing a healthy mix of old and new material to please all in attendance, we were treated to a slew of hits from all three albums, and I was delighted to see At Mount Zoomer represented well even despite the mediocre reception it generated in a slight sophomore slump. We got "Dear Sons and Daughters of Hungry Ghosts," a great rendition of "I'll Believe in Anything," and "In the Direction of the Moon" from new album Expo 86 which Krug mentioned was the perfect break for any smokers since it was too weird for the average person. I respectfully disagree with that opinion, and if anyone left during that song (which is arguably the best on their new effort), you really missed a good moment.
By this point, in a turn of events for some First Ave. shows, the crowd managed not to be a bunch of poopers and were beyond appreciative of the four guys rocking out on the stage. In what was one of the tightest performances I have seen in a long while, and not in a dreadfully boring way like Grizzly Bear (yes, pan me for that one), fans of Wolfy we're going crazy over every part of this performance, consistently screaming "We love you!" They all looked humbled that's for sure. We Minnesotans know how to treat a band that we love well.
A seriously epic "California Dreamer" was the last song of their set which led to a two song encore that I don't remember because a) Everyone was still freaking out, and b) A 3-4 minute jam session progressed at the end which every member somehow managed to finish in unison and further made the audience loose their shit.
Further observations included Arlen Thompson on drums not having to be all that showy to illustrate he knows how to drum and do it well. His beats filled up that room without him hardly moving. Also refreshing to note is the general lack of the band having to perform lavishly with intricate backdrops and props in order to get the crowd to care like most one-hit wonder indie acts these days. These guys know their sound and they beat it into the ground with miraculous results.
Personal Bias: I grew up with Apologies to the Queen Mary and believe it as one of the albums which got me back into music.
The Crowd: Early 20s, about to enter the real world/already there and are poor. Flannel. Dirty Midwestern. Great people who stuck with this band as they went through their formidable years.
Overheard: "I forgot my ID at home, I swear to God."
Random Dump: Nice Devo visuals on the screen including the video for "Whip It" and an animated cockroach playing the drums on a hippo's tooth.
Set Time: 90 minutes
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