Electro-indie alt band Wolf Parade don't tour all that often. So, I was a little surprised to see that they had booked a gig at the House of Blues this past Monday; I wasn't sure the relatively low-profile canuks' fan base could fill the venue. I needn't have worried. Though the show was mostly designated to the ground floor, (one or two lone guys were milling around up on the balcony, and they might have been HoB employees) there were more than enough jazzed up fans pressing towards the stage to match the wired energy that band was dispensing.
Spencer Krug, he of Morrisey-esque vocals and mad synthesizer skills, spent the majority of the roughly hour-and-a-half long show crouched over his keyboard in a stance that was one part Schroeder from Peanuts, one part feverish Beethoven. Krug hammered away at the keys, messy hair hanging in his face, with one leg propped up behind him on a swiveling stool (flamingo style) intermittently howling into the mic and ceding the vocals to the raspy voiced Dan Boeckner. Each song of the night was electric. Wolf Parade's brand of dark, frenetic, almost messy, synth-infused alt rock is at its strongest live. Boeckner never stopped moving, his rail-thin body fairly shuddering with frissons of energy. He paused only to thank the crowd after each song with a cheery "thanks, dudes!," and to swig from a tall glass of what he stressed was an adult beverage.
And that's the thing. For all their collective musical genius, (Krug and Boeckner have a lengthy resume between them, including the Handsome Furs, Frog Eyes and Sunset Rubdown) the members of Wolf Parade are, dare I say it, sort of geeky. Which just might be part of their charm. "It's a vodka and soda and it's delicious!," Boeckner announced as soon as the band walked onstage, before promptly admitting, "no it's not." Later, when the band returned for their encore, he strode onstage theatrically swigging from a bottle of Jack like a teen at prom with something to prove. Not that any such displays of forced bad-assery detracted from a searing set.
The crowd howled their approval after each song. Literally howled. A goofy looking kid in a tie-dyed t-shirt in the wings made like a wolf throughout the entire show, in homage to the band's name. Krug and Boeckner took turns at the mic, delivering the crowd a number of favorites, including an electrified "Shine a Light" that the hippie-wolf stage right really dug. Of course, with their new album, Expo 86, just out, the band also played quite a few new, slightly more stylized songs. "We're going to play a new one. it's a slow sauce, so grab onto your loved ones" Krug advised the crowd, before playing "In the Direction of the Moon."
Two girls in identical bleached pixie haircuts had been screaming for "Kissing the Beehive" all night, and the band finally complied, ending the song with a roughly three minute jam session that was pretty epic. "You guys are nice," Krug noted, in response to the crowd's fevered applause.
Wolf Parade let us wait it out for a couple of minutes, as the crowd cheered (and howled) before coming back out for the encore (make that three) that we already knew they would deliver. One of the best songs of the night was "This Heart's on Fire," which a girl in attendance had apparently dedicated to a friend via a request before the show. Boeckner ended the show with a familiar refrain, "thanks, dudes!" Ditto.