Sunday night was another crowded show at The Khyber, with the tiny club packed to the gills to see Canadian buzz band Wolf Parade play their first show in Philly.
The opening act was former Hot Hot Heat guitarist and current Wolf Parade member (at least while they’re touring), Dante DeCaro. There is speculation that DeCaro will join Wolf Parade full time, but that has not been decided yet.
DeCaro’s opening set was an acoustic venture backed by Wolf Parade drummer Arlen Thompson. He was practically channeling Dylan for most of the set, complete with the harmonica neck stand and head tilt. Still, I thought the guy had some decent tunes, although the girls next to me said, “Less vocals, more harmonica.” I didn’t think his voice was all that bad.
The second act was another Canadian band, Think About Life. They are an odd three-piece that came on the stage in matching green shirts. No guitars or bass in the band, just the singer, drummer, and a keyboardist with lots of sampling. Their set consisted of a lot of extremely loud keyboard playing, fits of rock rage from their lead singer, streams of consciousness during songs, and a group rap about staying in school.
Like I said, odd.
Wolf Parade came on after a very long break consisting of setting up what seemed like enough gear for 5 bands. Their set was a contrast of brilliant music vs. half assed logistics. They were late arriving to the show, which pushed everything back since DeCaro was with them. Then they took a loooonnnnggg time to get on stage. Then they took forever to come back and play their encore, prompting someone behind me to yell, “Get your fucking shit together!” and “Play a fucking song!” Boeckner confided to the crowd that the band had just broken up and reunited during a pee break. I wouldn’t be surprised.
DeCaro played guitar and some bass through the set, preferring a drumstick to a guitar pick. He commented at one point that Philly was being a “bit reserved” during the set, to which he received a classic Philly response: “Wanna get beat up?” Nice. But DeCaro’s comment was a salient one; the crowd was not all over the place dancing and such, which I think had more to do with the style of music than it did indifference from the crowd. Wolf Parade’s music should be listened to; not the catalyst for a bunch of exuberant dancing. Apologies To The Queen Mary is a dense album that takes time to dig into. It’s just not made for dancing.
The band’s music and lyrics are split between guitarist Dan Boeckner and keyboardist Spencer Krug. Brian and I both prefer Krug’s tunes to his counterparts. That’s not to slight the efforts of Boeckner: some of his songs are standout, accessible tracks on their debut album (“Modern World” and “This Heart’s On Fire” specifically). Krugs’ songs, by contrast, take longer to explore, and his yelping singing style adds an element that Boeckner’s more rock star growl misses.
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