Wolf Parade | 11.20.10

Krug and Boeckner shake and writhe, resembling monsters of their own creation that come alive in the show setting. 

The Pageant, St. Louis
If Wolf Parade didn’t sound on top of their usual keyboard-soaked, prog rock game last night, it was because, according to vocalist/keyboardist Spencer Krug, “We all have colds. And the only way to forget about them is to get real wasted on honey whiskey.” The band tore through a buffet of their catalog, kicking right into “Soldier’s Grin,” the first track off of At Mount Zoomer and a very appropriate opener. Despite their ills, the show was a rigid, solid array of energetic, power-pop-meets-noise tunes that begged for head bobs and fist pumps galore. Translation: They absolutely fucking killed it.
With Dan Boeckner and Spencer Krug sharing vocal and songwriting duties, we’re rewarded with a constant changing of the guard, where the mood and overall dynamic alters with each passing of the microphone. Everything seems, in a good way, intense, and Krug and Boeckner shake and writhe, resembling monsters of their own creation that come alive in the show setting. Playing a range of tunes from the towering, driving “What Did My Lover Say (It Always Had To Go This Way)” off of Expo 86 all the way to the infinitely sexy “Fine Young Cannibals” from At Mount Zoomer, the band is at their best drenched in the spasticity of a live show. They were extremely appreciative of the largely packed Pageant, recalling a show they played five years ago to “literally no one” at the now defunct Rocket Bar. It’s nice to see St. Louis show up for an indie Canadian outfit of the sort typically reserved for The Firebird at a larger venue like The Pageant, and actually fill it nicely.
Watching Krug is like watching a mad scientist at the helm of endless gadgetry. He pounds the keyboards and manipulates sounds to almost travel through his body, and his vocal shrills bring about a certain desperation and power. He stands and kicks his throne back and forth until it finally falls—this happens throughout the show but doesn’t distract from the fervor of his twitchy key-rapping. Boeckner is often facing drummer Arlen Thompson, off in a world of string bending and feedback, slinging his Lee Ranaldo Jazzmaster back and forth. When he’s singing he’s shaky and sudden, evoking forceful vocals in short bursts from whatever deep trenches in which they’ve been poised.
They ran through songs from all three albums—including “You Are A Runner And I Am My Father’s Son,” which took on an especially waltzy, marchy feel live then took a noisy turn at the end with Boeckner and multi-instrumentalist Dante DeCaro’s dueling Jazzmasters. “Ghost Pressure” was a highlight, with Boeckner’s ascending repetition of “little vision come shake me up, shake me up” building the song into one of those moments where the crowd is on the same page, dancing and repeating the chorus along with him. “California Dreamer” was last before the encore, and the way that it breaks down at about three minutes into the Television-esque riff from Boeckner, then quickly changes to a heavy-handed jam was perfectly on point. “Shine a Light” came in for the encore, and it was welcome—a forgotten gem off their first record that’s quick and to the point. The ending saw “Kissing the Beehive,” the ten-minute closer to their second album, which was at least that long here, and it ended up unwinding into a prolonged dance-noise jam that had everyone on stage and in the crowd going nuts.
Wolf Parade live is a different beast than on record. The show conjures a certain intrinsic and pronounced ferocity from Krug and Boeckner that we don’t immediately hear through the album versions, and this newly discovered side of them is the perfect compliment to the quality they’ve already shown us on their records. Wolf Parade brings the noise, and they bring it well. | Justin Curia

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