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September 22, 2005 - Crocodile Café - Seattle, WA
by Katie Sauro
Those who forgot their earplugs Thursday night were greeted, and then taunted mercilessly, with a deafeningly loud set from Montreal indie rockers Wolf Parade. The fans toward the front of the small venue were even forced to hold their hands to their ears in a vain attempt to salvage what hearing still remained.
But that didn’t wipe the smiles from their alcohol-induced rosy cheeks. It didn’t keep them from flailing about wildly to the swift, heavy rhythms. No, the crowd at the Crocodile braved inevitable hearing loss, stood as close to the stage as possible, and with hands pressed to the sides of their heads, danced their little indie hearts out.
A night after playing another show in Seattle—opening for fellow Canadians, the Arcade Fire—the boys of Wolf Parade decided to play another Seattle date, but this time as the headliner, with Seattleites the Vells and B.C. folk singer-songwriter and former member of Hot Hot Heat, Dante Decaro, opening. And speaking on behalf of those of us too cheap (that’s me) or too poor (that can be said of me, as well) to afford the Arcade Fire show, or for those of us who only heard about the show after it had been sold out for weeks, we celebrated the band’s decision to play another night.
Wolf Parade is made up of guitarist Dan Boeckner, Spencer Krug on keyboards, Hadji Bakara on synths, and drummer Arlen Thompson, with Boeckner and Krug switching off on lead vocal. The two have very distinct and unusual vocal styles. Krug’s is high-pitched and sounds somewhat pinched and atonal, almost as if in the last throes of puberty, while Boeckner’s is a little deeper and coarser, but with a slight whine. But listen carefully, as there is one astounding similarity—both somehow miss every single note they attempt, every high, every low, and every note in between.
But amidst the delicate balance of gritty guitar work, swirling keyboards and synths, pounding drums, and the mesmerizing sounds emanating from Bakara’s laptop, both Boeckner and Krug sound astoundingly, inexplicably perfect.
Along with recruited member Decaro on guitar, the band provided the crowd with a set of simple, heavy punk rhythms made intricate through an electronica-and-pop facelift. They played much of their new album, Apologies to the Queen Mary, slated for release this Tuesday, September 27th, including crowd favorite “You Are a Runner and I am My Father’s Son,” on which Boeckner, with a clenched jaw and full-body theatrics, fell to his knees in a fit of passion as Krug’s vocals filled the air.
Despite almost a complete lack of interaction with the crowd (I did hear a few “thank you”s, but that’s about it), their dynamism and energy made its way from the stage to each and every one of the hundreds of people swaying from side to side, tapping their feet, and for those of us lucky enough to have an advanced copy of their album, singing along with Wolf Parade’s unique brand of indie rock.
After saying a final thank you and good night to the eager crowd, they came back out for one last song –a rough but entertaining and raucous cover of Bob Dylan’s classic, “Knockin’ on Heaven’s Door.” Once the final note was played and the audience erupted in cheers and screams for more, it looked like the band was a little taken aback. They stood staring at each other for a second, as if to ask, “Are we supposed to play another?” Unfortunately they were out of time, so they said one last good night and left the stage for the final time.
With their dynamic, passionate live performance, and their much-praised debut full-length, there is no doubt in my mind that Wolf Parade is following in the footsteps of bands like the Shins and the Postal Service, poised to inherit the crown as Sub Pop’s next big thing. And no band is more deserving.