Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Wolf Parade--The Vogue, Indianapolis, Indiana

When Jim Powers went to see AGAINST ME! a couple weeks ago, he was the oldest guy there. When Wolf Parade played the Vogue in Indy, I was pretty much the oldest guy there, too. If I had to guess, I was at least five years older than 80% of the crowd, but, unlike Mr. Powers, I didn't contribute to the delinquency of any minors. Because the Vogue is a 21 and over club.

I arrived fifteen minutes late by which I mean thirty minutes before opener Listening Party--from British Columbia, Canada's "good side, the warm side, Lake (something)," according to Lindy, their singer/drummer--took the stage. Their rough-hewn style is an odd, interesting mix of Hot Hot Heat's emo leanings and The Dodos' folky tribalism. After a few nice enough but negligibly impactful songs, the band upped the banter, and what better way to engage your audience than with tales of the open road: "You know those little books," they asked, "that they have at diners? Like at side-of-the-highway diners? Well they have these joke books, and one of them is all these 'bad day' scenarios," they continued, "like if you're at the bank machine, and you put your bank card in the machine, and instead of money, you get covered in a hundred tons of gerbil poo. That's a bad day!" Yikes. I have one: What if you're at the Vogue waiting for waiting for Wolf Parade to come on and you have to listen to Listening Party? That's a bad day!

That's also unnecessarily harsh. Listening Party were fun and congenial, and their guitarist could be a stand-in for Seth Rogen. Ultimately, their set was unremarkable, and the songs suffered from a samey-same quality. Each one employed the same canned beats, for example, and ended in guitar feedback and vocal nonsense (oohs and ahhs and the like). Interesting, though, was the Lindy's unorthodox kit--a regular tom, a crash cymbal, a trash can, a bucket, and a cowbell--from which he wrung an astounding amount of percussion. And if indie rock needs one thing, it's more cowbell. When Listening Party's set ended, a lone piece of confetti* floated down from the ceiling somewhere--a fitting end, and a mirror to the minimal fanfare the crowd afforded their exit stage left. Such, I suppose, is the curse of the opening band.

Between sets was the usual melee, and from where I was standing I could see the stage door, where musicians and crew came and went, under the watchful eyes of a couple bouncers. The bouncers at the Vogue have a reputation for being pugilistic hardasses, and they maintained their vigilance all night--backing people off the stage, defusing drunken shenanigans, shining flashlights in people's faces--a vigilance which came in handy once.

A few minutes before Wolf Parade started, some guy and his girlfriend came in the stage door. Naturally the bouncer asked to see their badges, and when they couldn't produce any, the dude claimed he was "with the band." The bouncer told him "Prove it," so this dickhead had the brass to jump onstage during setup/soundcheck and ask the road crew to vouch for him. Of course they told him to go to hell, and he and his girlfriend were summarily ejected from the premises, out the stage door whence they came, into to the cold Indianapolis night. What kind of shit is that? Trying to cheat a band you're ostensibly a fan of, and then having the audacity to get on stage and ask the sound guy and gal to big up for you? You're telling me that a $16 concert ticket is so exorbitantly expensive that you have resort to dishonesty? It's hard not begrudge you this transgression because you were just trying to beat the system. And you failed. You, concert sneaker-inner, deserve every bit of embarrassment and shame that public failure at such a ludicrous stunt surely provided. Asshole.

And then Wolf Parade came out. And they brought the pain. In a whirlwindish, breathless set that was much longer in retrospect than it felt in person, Wolf Parade basically played the entirety of their discography, minus a few songs. From opener "You Are a Runner and I Am My Father's Son" to closer "Kissing the Beehive," the band only let up twice, both times because of Spencer Krug: first because he had to bandage his "precious little pinky finger" (his words) after the second song, and again because his "piano became unplugged somehow" during the first verse of "California Dreamer." For the record, Krug "hate(s) when that happens," he "fucking hate(s) when that happens," and despite the false start and do-over, the song killed. The aforementioned "Kissing the Beehive" also killed, and confirmed my suspicions that it (and every song on At Mount Zoomer) is meant to be heard live. In person, "Beehive" is titanic, its chaos and loudness almost unbearable. Arlen Thompson and Dante DeCaro held court during the outro, anchoring Krug, Dan Boeckner, and Hadji Bakara while they freaked the fuck out. Manic keys, guitar squall, and electronic filigrees bounced off the walls and ceiling, and just when it all threatened to collapse into an incomprehensible mess, Thompson pulled everything back together and closed the number and the set. It was amazing, and for my $16, doesn't get much better.

For the rest of the set, their first in the Circle City, Wolf Parade meandered between albums, including favorites "Fancy Claps," "Grounds for Divorce," "Shine a Light," "Same Ghost Every Night," and the oft-requested "This Heart's on Fire" (albeit most-oft-requested by some wet fart who kept yelling "My Heart's on Fire," and whose female quarry simply yelled "Wolf Parade") from Apologies to the Queen Mary. From At Mount Zoomer, we were treated to "Fine Young Cannibals," "Call It a Ritual," "The Grey Estates,"and a scorching version of "Language City," after which Boeckner was most satisfied, exclaiming "yeah" and pumping his fist once in well deserved self-congratulation. For the encore, Krug announced the band would play "a few old songs," and they ripped through three songs off Apologies, most notably "I'll Believe in Anything." Destruction. Sadly absent was "Dinner Bells," my favorite Wolf Parade song, but its absence did not detract one iota from a show that was every bit as ecstatic as I hoped it would be. Plus I learned three things: (1) Girls love Spencer Krug. Inter-song shouts of "Spencer!" cascaded down upon him throughout the night. (2) Dan Boeckner loves to rock, and he loves whiskey. (3) Hadji Bakara is far more important to this band than I ever realized. Dude is a wizard.

With Wilderness playing Jake's at the end of the month, and if The Walkmen ever goddam come to Indiana again, I can die peacefully with a drawerful of wicked awesome ticket stubs, all, apparently, beginning with the letter W.

*Should this be confetto? If graffiti is plural graffito, then shouldn't the same rule apply here? One confetto, many confetti? Curious.

--Brian Herrmann


Jim P. said...

Dinner Bells?

Brian said...

Yes. Dinner Bells. Wanna fight about it?

Jim P. said...

No, not really. I'll just judge you from afar, thanks.

Brian said...

That's cool. I prefer it that way.

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