The first time I saw Wolf Parade, they were opening a secret Modest Mouse show at Webster Hall in 2004. I knew nothing about them, but they impressed me just as much as Modest Mouse had. Four years later, they’re still impressive: probably moreso than the band that fostered them into the spotlight.
Terminal 5 didn’t look sold out during the surprisingly loud and crunchy yet mild-mannered rock of fellow Canadians Wintersleep, but by the time Wolf Parade started, it was as packed as a 5pm train with the alcohol levels of the 10pm.
The pack took the stage with nary a word, throwing themselves right into the lead track from their first LP, “You Are A Runner And I Am My Father’s Son,” a rousing nod to their beginnings. The soft-spoken crew kept the talk to a minimum until a couple songs in, when Spencer Krug said in a near whisper, “You guys are really nice. Thank you.”
But the crowd wasn’t that nice, at least not to each other. Even near the back, it was impossible to avoid tall guys pushing up to the front (who knew Wolf Parade is such a dude band?) or drunks shouting song titles over and over (one girl yelled out “Disco Sheets!” every 30 seconds for the last half of the show, apparently a big enough fan to love a song from their first Sub Pop EP, but not enough of a fan to actually listen to the show).
If there’s one thing an overly intoxicated crowd is good for, though, it’s enthusiasm. Even Wolf Parade was taken aback by the appearance of crowd surfers and moshing, at once point politely asking concert-goers to “please be nice to each other,” but quickly adding, “We appreciate the energy.”
Indeed they do, for it wasn’t just the hyperactive audience that gave this show its stadium atmosphere, but the spirited performance of the band. Teeming with energy while he pounced on the keys, Krug couldn’t commit to sitting or standing, leaning forward or leaning back. Co-front man Dan Boeckner was just as excitedly tense, constantly shaking his head and yelping like a circuit ran through his guitar and into his body.
The music also takes on an anthemic quality in a live setting, whether it was the chemistry of the band and the crowd, or simply hearing it while it was being created is hard to say. But every song was a fist-pumper, an ass-shaker, a shout-a-long, including their 10-minute long masterpiece “Kissing the Beehive,” which closes out their new release, At Mount Zoomer, and closed out their set before the encore.
Wolf Parade, “Kissing the Beehive” (download)
They sent us off into the night with “I’ll Believe in Anything,” which, upon first hearing it, had a derogatory tone, like he was addressing a 40 year old who still kept watch for Santa Claus on Christmas Eve. On Thursday night, it sounded hopeful. Like rooting for the underdog. Even if “nobody knows you / and nobody gives a damn either way,” that doesn’t mean you can’t have lofty ambitions. If any one knows that, it’s Wolf Parade. Because they might have needed Modest Mouse to draw a crowd in 2004, but in 2008, they can pack large venues on their own. Two nights in a row.
Wolf Parade, “I’ll Believe in Anything” (download)
You Are A Runner And I Am My Father’s Son
Call It A Ritual
The Grey Estates
Dear Sons And Daughters Of Hungry Ghosts
An Animal In Your Care
Shine A Light
Bang Your Drum
Fine Young Cannibals
This Heart’s On Fire
Kissing The Beehive
It’s a Curse
I’ll Believe In Anything