Interpol is one of those bands I managed to only see at festivals up to this point. Let’s face it, festivals suck for technical bands. Luckily, I was able to catch the New York band Thursday night at the Palladium Ballroom (photos).
Opening band The Liars were just starting their set when I arrived. Liars’ frontman Aaron, clad in a tailored white suit, was flapping his arms to a tribal-esque beat. As the band shifted moods and mimicked bagpipe drones in the throbbing tune, the Liars came off animalistic yet cerebral. Unfortunately, as the set progressed the band proved to be less intellectual. The music shifted to noise, and the band was trying too hard to be weird. However, the one song dedicated to Dallas, “Freak Out,” had more of a disco-meets-The Cure feel – and was good.
Following a brief set change and reminder that strobe lights were being used during the show, the lights dimmed readying the stage for Interpol. An image of a lion stalking a goat illuminated the stage’s back wall as the five dapper men of Interpol appeared. Each in dressy duds – OK, drummer Sam Fogarino was wearing shorts – the band members hit their marks and launched into “Pioneer to the Falls.” (ed. - Thanks Matt!)
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Paul Banks’ vocals immediately lured the audience in with their deep tones on "The Heinrich Maneuver." His voice was near sultry -- in a distant artist soul way. His voice, coupled with soaring guitars under a drape of earnest keyboarding, had the crowd at the second song.
When the band shifted to more dance-friendly tunes with ‘60s-influenced guitar riffs, Interpol had a sea of 600 swerving hips with mod ‘dos. The Palladium crowd became a clapping metronome for “Slow Hands,” and by the coda the room was in full dance mode.
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Interpol epitomizes its genre. It isn’t kitsch. It isn’t scene. It isn’t trying too hard. Interpol gets it, and the result is impressive. Granted, the band isn’t the most active on stage. Though, guitarist Daniel Kessler danced all over the stage. (His performance was all kicks, licks and wingtips. Seriously.) Even through the more frenetic tunes, Interpol is meticulous in its sound. So, while there is less witty banter and less dancing on stage, the group’s stellar musicianship makes Interpol intriguing to watch. –- Chelsea Ide
Highlight of the night: Watching the Liars’ vocalist drunkenly dance at the side of the stage throughout Interpol’s set. He would hop from foot to foot and fail his arms, while being mindful of the beer in his left hand.