Concert review: Wolf Parade works hard at the Pageant, Saturday, November 20
Not all rock shows are soul-rocking experiences. Though all the necessary components were there at the Wolf Parade show this Saturday at the Pageant—the punctuated lights, the sheer volume of the music, the gathered masses and group drunkenness—but the performance while solid seemed forced and it wasn’t fixed by a light show. It was a valiant effort by the entire band, but unfortunately, at least for me, it was just, well, mediocre.
To start with, they were a bit pissed. I saw it early, one boozer recognizing the inebriated swagger of another. Brother, I hear you, pass me the whiskey. I kept waiting for a visible gaff, a stumble, a botched key stroke or a missed lyric to liven things up, but there wasn’t one. Maybe Spencer Krug always does no-look hackey-sack tricks with his foot stool while he plays head down, banging the keys on his center-stage set-up, and maybe all the other members of the Wolf Parade are always kind of crowd wary, and not just happily smashed and a little disconnected.
They looked disconnected from their audience and they were. Maybe it was the cold medicine and the flight from Kansas City, the eighteen city tour in almost as many days. Maybe these guys should take a break after this and do a little soul searching. I don’t know, buy a church to record in or take a long trip into the desert accompanied by a film crew and lots of psychedelics.
Last week I’d seen the Dresden Dolls and watched Amanda Palmer captivate an audience with her eyes, lusty vocals, the full attack of her playing, her manic sex-fueled rocking on her keyboard. I’ve seen a keyboardist hold a crowd, so I know Spencer could have looked up at least once and given me something more than the top of his head. Amanda Palmer had been there for us. But this week, I was there for Wolf Parade. If I left, they would cease to exist. That’s not true of some bands—some have a purpose and a following and a raison d’etre. But Wolf Parade worries me a bit. They get the basics, they work hard, they make decent music. But I wonder about the soul of the whole enterprise, whether they are truly committed to doing something innovative, or whether they’ll just be happy with a little record deal and an 18-city tour.
True fans said that the ten-minute “Kissing the Beehive” encore was incredible; I don’t know, because I left, and for me, Wolf Parade ceased to exist at least for a night. Maybe they’ll get over their colds and bring it in city 19; I will never know.