photo from the Warsaw show by Jean-Pierre A. Gary
Sunday, August 19
Dystopian square-dances, demented waltzes, eroding polkas. Wolf Parade have more than a whiff of the Addams Family about them, a whimsical sense of cartoon horror and entropy, Cousin It warbling sweet lullabies as Lurch claps, Thing finger-snaps, Montreal burns. The Canadian Indie-Rock Supergroup Sound™ eroding, dissolving, decaying, rotting. The Merry-Go-Round breaking down. Two years after Apologies to the Queen Mary, “I’ll Believe in Anything” is still an absolute monster, a stadium-leveling anthem with more fist-pumping pathos than anything the Arcade Fire’s dreamt up with a third of the personnel—one exhilarating, unbroken crescendo built, armed, and detonated in four minutes. But tonight it’s also a surrealist cacophony of carnival keyboards, screeching guitars, and co-frontman Spencer Krug’s unhinged howl, played, like all the old stuff, almost double-time, like an angry punk band barreling through every song Wolf Parade’s ever written in ten minutes or less. As straight and true as a bullet but as messy and visceral as the aftermath.
Given that this band’s already spawned two high-profile side projects, it’s a relief just to see ’em all together again, a relief to encounter a set list with as many new songs as old, just because it confirms there actually are new songs. “Fine Young Cannibals” (all new titles are message-board speculation, skepticism is heavily advised) a riff-heavy Cheap Trick romp, “What You Know Could Only Mean One Thing” another slightly nauseated Tilt-O-Whirl waltz, “I Wish You Wouldn’t Cry” a twelve-minute, set-closing Homeric epic, slightly wayward, severely violent. This all bodes well. As does, in its own warped way, “You Will Remember Me Most by My Funeral,” another cracked Krug piano ballad in the Sunset Rubdown vein, theatrically bleating out his own eulogy:
So when I die
You can put on costumes
In the style of the clothes I wore
And sing the songs
Your mothers taught you
When you were too young to know this is what they were for
La la la la la la la la la la la la la la
For an encore, after co-frontman Dan Boeckner has enthusiastically recommended the new Rocky film, they barrel through Queen Mary tunes “This Heart’s on Fire,” “You Are a Runner and I Am My Father’s Son,” and “Fancy Clap” rapid fire, as if the songs are rushing to catch a bus. This is enthusiasm, though, not careless haste, and even if they were sped up to thrash-metal dirges they’d still retain their ramshackle delight—creepy, kooky, mysterious, spooky, altogether ooky. New album’s gonna be splendid.
Spencer Krug’s Wolf Parade side-project Sunset Rubdown play the Music Hall of Williamsburg on Monday, October 8.