Handsome Furs’ numerous press photos show the married couple — Wolf Parade’s Dan Boeckner and Alexei Perry–tangled up in one lurid pose or another. Married and sexy: I half-expected Handsome Furs show Friday night to be a live realization of the photos, to have a physicality befitting a couple who like to get physical, their interaction as exclusionary and uncomfortable as in those pictures. And though Perry and Boeckner spent most of the show facing the crowd rather than each other, you got glimpses of the couple’s dynamic. Boeckner moved in a tight arc, his head and neck stiff, eyes focused on his guitar. Across from him, Perry went for full head swings, her mouth held open, and her eyes rolling back into her head, long, tinsel earrings swaying. Watching her performance, it was hard not to think of porno’s exaggerated moans and grimaces–either slightly discomforting or totally entrancing, depending on your perspective.
So, though they seemed isolated at times, some aspect of their relationship, either authentic or contrived, is on stage with them. Perhaps Handsome Furs simply take mutual respect as a given. Maybe it never crossed their mind. Either way, Perry is great to look at. She played barefoot for the whole show, slapping her foot against the stage for “Talking Hotel Arbat Blues,” one of the songs that shows why Face Control tops their first record. Both albums take various forms of alienation as their subject, but Face Control finds a romantic narrative to connect the disconnected. Boeckner’s voice evokes Bruce Springsteen’s when it cracks, and his and Perry’s lyrics are about cold war romance. “And though it pains me to treat you unkind, the good is greater when our love is blind,” he sings on “All We Want Is Everything.”
Sweaty and scattered, Boeckner had a cold, which he seemed to be treating with alternate doses of codeine and nicotine. They kept on mentioning how cool and intimidating it was, playing in New York. Perry smiled between songs, as though she had just pulled of a particularly tricky cartwheel. She used her keyboard for support, or for leverage when she jumped and kicked back. They pressed their foreheads together during the instrumental passages, alternately clenching their eyes shut or staring intensely at each other. When they finally introduced themselves, it was as “my lovely wife Alexei Perry,” and “my lovely husband Dan Boeckner.” Just before then, they’d had the most married couple-y of all married couple conversations. “I want to live here,” Perry insisted to her husband. “It’s so expensive, though,” Boeckner reminded his wife.–Jessica Suarez