The Bomb Factory has many traits that work in its favor. The general admission floor area is spacious enough to provide ample sight lines of the massive stage. Its generous square footage allows for easy movement, perfect for when you need to escape noisy talkers or overzealous fans looking for multitudes of high-fives and fist-bumps before, during and after each song.
What the venue isn’t known for is its charm. It’s utilitarian and industrial, dark and shadowy. It is a former ammunition factory, after all. It’s meant to house a lot of people at once, and its purpose is to provide a suitably professional place to see and hear live music and have a few drinks with minimal fuss or decision-making.
Certain artists might find The Bomb Factory a challenging location to play. Perhaps their sunny disposition or loquacious stage banter gets drowned out and lost in the atmosphere. Maybe the band’s sound is a bit too tinny or subtle and fails to command the cavernous walls and surroundings. One of the many positives of the area’s live music scene is that there are so many outlets for bands to play. If one place doesn’t fit, try another the next time the tour passes through town.
Interpol is a band meant for The Bomb Factory. With a touring schedule that keeps the longtime New York post-punk rockers hopping through our city on a frequent basis, there should be no such discussion about them playing other venues. All the aforementioned elements that make The Bomb Factory a positive experience play right into Interpol’s wheelhouse. This was certainly visible and on display Thursday night as the band played a searing set to a mostly full room.
Formed in the early 2000s and catapulted into stardom with the release of their debut album, Turn On The Bright Lights, Interpol served as one of the torchbearers for the NYC downtown scene alongside kindred spirits like The Strokes, LCD Soundsystem and Yeah Yeah Yeahs. Interpol — three of the four original members, guitarist Daniel Kessler, drummer Sam Fogarino, and singer/guitarist Paul Banks, anchor the band — were the disaffected cool kids of the bunch. They wore (and still do) dark suits and sunglasses, and went about their business with a sense of serious detachment. Of course, the outward persona often masks the true nature of the beast. Turns out Banks is a hip-hop head, Kessler is a foodie and the band spent much of the aughts partying so hard that a good sense of self-reflection and life management greeted their arrival into the current decade.
All this and much more are expertly detailed in Lizzy Goodman’s book, Meet Me In The Bathroom. Released last year, it’s a wildly entertaining and thorough oral history of the scene as recounted by those who participated and worked along the fringes of the happenings. Despite the wild tales of debauchery, the inner-band feuds and the whirlwind rise to fame chronicled within, Goodman’s ultimate premise is that the music is what ultimately mattered. The bands, Interpol chief among them, made songs that resonated and will ultimately stand up for future generations to enjoy and appreciate.
A quick glimpse around the audience proved this thought true. Forty-year-old men and women bobbed their heads along to the pulsating beats of songs like “Leif Erickson” and “Not Even Jail” with the same enthusiasm they likely displayed circa 2004. Younger folks — to whom Interpol is slowly becoming an iconic, classic rock outfit — waved their phones in the air and snapped videos of Interpol blasting out “NYC” like it was Zeppelin tearing through “Stairway to Heaven.” There were even a few of those hipster parents who eschewed babysitters and brought along their headphone-encased toddlers so that they could, I guess, tell them years from now how cool they were for bringing them along.
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In short, the crowd was having fun. The band seemed to be, too, which was great because “fun” is a word that tends to not be associated often with Interpol. Banks peppered his banter with a plethora of kind words and more than once triumphantly moved away from his center stage position to lock in with Kessler on guitar solos. Of particular note for local fans was the presence of Brandon Curtis on keyboards and backing vocals. Though the stage placement made him a bit difficult to see, the onetime Dallas resident still keeps huge ties to this area with his involvement in Secret Machines and Tripping Daisy among others. Curtis and bassist Brad Truax have been rounding out the band’s sound for the last several albums and tours.
They played in front of glimmering neon lights that fluctuated between bright and dark colors depending on a song’s mood. Billows of smoke puffed up the sides of the stage, serving to heighten the mystique but also slyly nodding to the tried-and-true guitar-rock heroics of days past.
Of course, Interpol has a new album, Marauder, to plug. Though the sound is more akin to the early days of Interpol, the songs they featured live still sent many in the crowd heading for the bar or the restrooms. That’s a little unfortunate, as “If You Really Love Nothing,” “The Rover” and “Complications” stand up as some of the band’s finest work. Those who rested during these songs also risked missing out on some favorites, as the setlist was nicely paced with a balance of old and new that prevented things from getting bogged down with unfamiliar material.
Regardless of their future recorded output, however, Interpol seem to be in it for the long game. They’ve got a formula that works and a legion of fans that seem poised to ride along. And, as long as they keep coming to Dallas, the perfect venue awaits.