Having a wide and eclectic taste in music sometimes pulls you all over the map in terms of who and what is seen live. Personally I can go long stretches without catching a good rock show and after seeing two great ones in a week I’ve been wondering why I ever do. I caught The Black Angels in DC and just one week later was lucky enough to attend the Wolf Parade show in Chicago — tough life.
Wolf Parade stopped by the House of Blues last Tuesday night and ripped the place up with a mixed setlist of songs from both Apologies to Queen Mary and the new LP, At Mount Zoomer. The all-ages crowd was rowdy, complete with crowd surfing, moshing and even some peeing — a little on that later. The Montreal based Wolf Parade has moved away some from the yawning jangle that dominates Apologies into a fuller sound with more accompanied piano and guitar. The crowd was equally pleased with songs from either album and the band played all nine new songs throughout the night. Dan Boeckner and Spencer Krug’s voices, similar yet both so unique, dominated the show instigating numerous sing-alongs from the packed house.
The show started and ended early — it was over by 9:15 — and what I once saw as a detriment to an overall experience is now a definite plus. The early start took nothing away from the intensity of either the band or the crowd and I was home by 10pm. That’s what I like to call the old man bonus. Another Canadian group, Listening Party, opened for Wolf Parade and were an intriguing start.
The duo (shown above) played guitar and a makeshift drum set, complete with trash can, to create a folksy sound with touches of afro-pop. Their sound was interesting and the set was well received, with one audience member asking aloud the name of the band. It must have been awesome for them to play to an attentive crowd in a semi-full House of Blues and they definitely took advantage of the situation.
Wolf Parade strolled on stage a little before 7:45pm and began the show with what I think was “Fine Young Cannibals” — hopefully a nod to the early 90’s group. The song had a really nice groove and eased the crowd into the night. The song is a good example of the growth that the band has gone through since the last LP. A sound that’s more approachable but without losing any of their edge.
The crowd remained on the floor for the first three or four songs and it wasn’t until “Shine a Light” that the youngsters started to get a bit rowdy. The song was played immaculately and the benefits of having two great singers shown during this tune. Spencer Krug’s “oo-oo-oo-ahh-ahh” throughout the song is such an amazing foil for Boeckner’s lyrics and in the live setting it really comes through. Whether a nod to the Stone’s or not Wolf Parade reminded me of the bravado that Jagger and the rest made famous while playing the song.
The new songs that stood out in my mind during the show were “Soldier’s Grin” and “The Grey Estates”. The former was a great mix of their old and new going from the driving sound that I am familiar with to a really pop-heavy bridge. “The Soldier’s Grin” took the best parts of the most popular indie band this year — you figure it out — but without any of the teen-pop that makes the unnamed so cloying. The keys draw me to the comparison and that’s about it.
The rowdiest it got all night by far was during “This Hearts on Fire” complete with multiple crowd surfers and a guy who peed on the floor. No joke, a man tried to pee in a can in the middle of the crowd; the shame of riding the el home with wet trousers must have been unbearable — unless you have no conscience and can pee on a dozen people. The song that began the pee party was awesome; Wolf Parade drew the song out for a few minutes which sent the energy through the roof.
Wolf Parade ran out of the new tracks one song into the encore and played over a half dozen older tunes making this a long indie rock show, applause on that. The five song encore was great and the band really plays all of their material well, even the song they claimed to have never played live. I’m sure Sub Pop is overjoyed to have this band in their ranks and I was equally pumped to have had the chance to catch their live show.
Check out the rest of the photo set from the night here.