wolf parade @ black cat
All due respect to DCeiver — who, in addition to being America's greatest living playwright is also an insightful rock critic — but the Wolf Parade doubters are dead wrong. I'll admit I'm biased: in the midst of the dark days of fall '05 I'd put on Apologies To The Queen Mary during my daily escape from Crystal City, and feel myself begin to thaw. It was the soundtrack of feeling returning. So I'm inclined to cut them a lot of slack.
But that wasn't necessary tonight. They played a beautifully loose, powerful, and faithful-but-not-slavish set. If these guys come to your town, go see them. I don't really have much more to say than that.
That is, unless we're talking about the opening act, the optimistically-named Holy Fuck. I don't really mean to pick on them — they weren't unique in their sound or level of suckiness. It's just that I've finally hit my breaking point for this kind of shit: I am officially done tolerating bands who spend their live shows trying to replicate the work of a sampler. "Hey!" they say to themselves, "We've got six people up on stage and at our disposal. Surely that's enough to authentically recreate the experience of listening to a 14 year-old learn how to use GarageBand."
To which I reply: you're right. It is. But why would you want to do that? I know, I know: my middlebrow, bourgeois notions of things like "song structure" bore avante gardists such as yourself. You're deconstructing pop music, man. Barbershop is in danger of growing stale. You're taking it to strange new places.
Except that after you spend all that time deconstructing it, the only part you bother to put back together is the three chord progression — and maybe, maybe a hook-y riff. Then you proceed through variations on that underlying structure for 6 or 7 minutes per song.
I have bad news for you. There's a word for people in this line of work: it's "jam band". Your audience might take different drugs than the Disco Biscuits' key demo, but the principle is the same. The only real difference is that jam band musicians can play their instruments. Rather than developing chops, you spent your time figuring out how to look musically ardent while tapping a MIDI controller trigger extra-fast, or waving your hands around a theremin, or, as in tonight's particulary ludicrous case, manually threading film stock through a device that presumably was supposed to read its audio track, but in practice seemed to have no effect on the speakers' output at all. So when it's your turn to solo, you generally rise to the challenge by playing your instrument slightly louder or faster or more frenetically. It's simply not that interesting.
So there it is. You have better facial hair, but otherwise you're just a shitty jam band. And when you consider that jam bands are really just shitty jazz bands, your case starts to look pretty weak. So c'mon — humor me. Sink to my level. Write a goddamn verse, chorus and bridge, then play them in less than five minutes. Then draw a crowd. I dare you.