Several hundred people filed into First Avenue nightclub on Sunday night to see Wolf Parade, one of the greatest bands of the 2000’s that posterity may unwittingly all but forget. Call it the curse of “indie,” – on top of the world at once, and then not even considered part of it the next. Yet Wolf Parade is no ordinary indie band, and in fact, in a different time and in a different place I believe they could have commanded a true movement in pop culture, if only through their music and not their words.
Wolf Parade might have been the best band in the world Sunday night. Lead singer and keys player Spencer Krug assumed front and center on First Avenue’s stage, wavy curly hair shading all but his face as he crouched over his keyboard, teetering one foot on his throne and effortlessly hammering out tunes that his fingers had walked countless times before. Co-singer and guitarist Dan Boeckner donned his skinny jeans and tight brown boots like a true indie rocker, his eyes and visage oozing the attitude and culture of New York’s Lower East Side (is there a Montreal equivalent?). The man couldn’t miss a beat, and he worked stage left as Wolf Parade’s seasoned bit of live grit while guitarist/keys player Dante DeCaro assumed a more reserved posturing opposite Boeckner. Wolf Parade’s drummer Arlen Thompson was fluid in his play, and when the band sometimes sped up beyond what a song usually dictated, I wondered if just maybe it was deliberate – an effort to challenge the man whose sticks seemed to play by themselves.
I could go on and on about how awesome Wolf Parade is and was, but these guys are one of the great young bands of the Millenium, and a point comes where a band is expected to be that good, and at that point, is it really necessary to describe what so many already know to be true? Yet here is the conundrum: how could a band like Wolf Parade, a band that sold well over 100,000 copies of their debut album Apologies to the Queen Mary (no small number for an indie band, mind you), only attract 400 – 500 people (by my estimate) to one of their shows in a metropolitan area of 3.2 million people? Seemed light to me – as did the energy level of the crowd. Yet this is what I have come to expect, and what many have probably come to expect of indie concerts. Strong songs and strong musicianship combined with artists that are too cool to really engage their crowd, and an audience that is near catatonic. I think the key is this – Wolf Parade played to their crowd as opposed to for them, a very fine but important distinction.
Nothing will change my mind about Wolf Parade being one of the greatest new bands of the last decade, but unless indie artists begin changing the way they engage their crowds, flavor of the week will continue to be the curse of indie. I realize I’m not the first to lament this predicament (and I won’t be the last either), but unless we keep talking about it the concerts might soon dwindle away and the music along with it. I don’t want that to happen.
Wolf Parade played a variety of songs off their previous two albums (Apologies to the Queen Mary and At Mount Zoomer) and their latest Expo 86. Yet the band didn’t play my personal favorite, and so here it is for some small fulfillment. Don’t be strangers for too long Wolf Parade, the Twin Cities would jump for you if you only asked!
Grounds For Divorce – Wolf Parade
Wolf Parade – Website / Myspace
posted July 20th, 2010 at 4:27 pm