Wolf Parade, Ogre You Asshole
November 16, 2010
Better than: finding out after the fact where the opening band got their name.
Maybe the band was oblivious to the muddy sound that buried the vocals. Or maybe it just didn't matter to them if the audience could hear the words because the set was so heavy on material from this year's Expo 86 that the audience wouldn't be tempted to sing along anyway.
Last night at the Granada Theater, when Wolf Paarade did indulge the crowd with older favorites that have had years of repeated plays to work them into our collective memory, the audience was all too happy to bolster the mix with backing vocals.
Perhaps the intent was to highlight the instrumentation. As important as the bizarre fantasy imagery and impassioned longing of the lyrics are to the enjoyment of Wolf Parade's music at home or in the car, they take a backseat to the band's twisted melodies and tight grooves during a show.
And with the newer material emphasizing straightforward, catchy, simple riffs (or at least, as straightforward and simple as you can expect from Spencer Krug and Dan Boeckner), that was a fine way to experience songs like "Yulia," as wonderful as the stranded-cosmonaut story may be.
Krug and Boeckner took turns leading the band through the set; not once did the band play consecutive songs by either of the songwriters. You'd think that might have killed some of the momentum; the two are so distinct that it would seem like a few songs in a row by each could give a set some natural ebb and flow. But regardless of who wrote which song, the band's music is so dramatic and dynamic, with almost every song building to some kind of climax, that this tit-for-tat style of building a setlist propelled the night along in a head-spinning barrage.
The crowd seemed content to nod along and sort of shimmy in place, saving the most enthusiastic receptions for "This Heart's On Fire," "Modern World" and "Dear Sons And Daughters of Hungry Ghosts" from Apologies to the Queen Mary, with the obvious climax during "I'll Believe In Anything."
"You can party like it's 1992, but be good to each other," Boeckner joked to the pit after that one.
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The set mostly overlooked 2008's At Mount Zoomer, though the epic "Kissing The Beehive," a 10-minute complex 9/4 groove, made for a great drawn-out closer to the two-song encore.
Personal Bias: "I don't want this guy to sing, I want the other guy to," said my wife, a casual fan of the band, during a Boeckner song. I wouldn't put it quite that strongly, but I've generally enjoyed Krug's songs more -- as great as "This Heart's On Fire" sounded last night. That preference continues with Expo 86, as "Pobody's Nerfect," "Yulia" and "Cave-o-Sapien" (which sounded great last night) have emerged as my favorites.
Random Note: An old friend met me at the show and admitted that he hasn't really listened to any new music since we graduated from high school more than a decade ago. "It just got all weird, and then everybody started using keyboards," was his generalization. This show did not convince him otherwise.
By The Way: Ogre You Asshole, touring outside of Japan for the first time in the band's career, was a good choice for an opener. Very cheery, scruffy, poppy guitar rock that mixes catchy riffs and funky grooves with the occasional jagged postpunk melody.