Crystal Ballroom, Portland, OR
Tuesday, July 27th, 2010
The transformation of Spencer Krug into a rock star has been fun to watch. I knew nothing about this band when they opened for Arcade Fire in 2005, and their live performance was nothing special. Krug looked like a fourteen year old band nerd with a quirky voice asked to fill in for the real keyboardist. He was barely even set up on stage, being as far to the left as possible. Dan Boeckner on the other hand was a rock star from day one, and pretty much controlled the stage.
While the singing duties have been split, not since their debut album has the weight been carried equally. Starting with the underrated At Mount Zoomer, it became clear that while Boeckner is writing competent rock songs, Krug is writing epic stories. The same feeling is prevalent on their third album, Expo 86, a very NW friendly title.
As for the show, they opened with, "You Are A Runner, And I Am My Fathers Son," the song that begins many of our earliest Wolf Parade listenings, being the first song on their debut. The two men traded songs back and forth, with Boeckner spazzing out on stage and Krug headbanging along on the keyboards, which seemed to be turned up much louder than previous shows. Let's face it, synth is back, and I've got my Vision Street Wear on back order in celebration.
A quick message to the fellas. So you're on a hot streak. You are full of confidence. You can do no wrong. There is a cute chick dancing her tail off next to her friend, singing along with every song. If you think she wants to have a "let's get to know each other" conversation, you've already lost.
Guess what? She is a fan of the band. Target the girl texting, or the one having a conversation with friends with her back to the stage. If you just can't let this one go, try dancing, and save the meaningful conversations until after the show. She paid good money to see one of her favorite bands, not to be continually interrupted by cologne and collars.
As I digress. "California Dreamer" was the perfect closing song to their first set, and had the largest crowd reaction. That was until the encore closer of "Kissing the Beehive." I'm not sure Wolf Parade should be allowed to close a show with a song other than this eleven minute masterpiece.
This was the best Wolf Parade performance I have witnessed, and they easily had more crowd participation than previous years (sure, they are more popular, but anyway). I'm not trying to take anything away from Dan Boeckner. Him and his wife put on a high energy show with the Handsome Furs, and he is still half of what makes Wolf Parade, but it is Spencer Krug morphing into a rock star that now makes this band a must see.
1. You Are A Runner And I Am My Father's Son
2. Palm Road
3. Cloud Shadow on the Mountain
4. Language City
5. Dear Sons And Daughters of Hungry Ghosts
6. Ghost Pressure
7. What Did My Lover Say? (It Always Had To Go This Way)
8. Fine Young Cannibals
10. This Heart's On Fire
11. I'll Believe In Anything
12. Pobody's Nerfect
13. California Dreamer
14. Two Men in New Tuxedos
15. Shine A Light
16. Kissing the Beehive