Review: Wolf Parade and The Pack AD at The Imperial

Some seven years after the last time I saw them, I went with Leah to see Wolf Parade at the Imperial last night. &, plus ça change, plus c’est la même chose.

But let’s start with the Pack AD, who’re amazing, impeccable and can rock. I’m pretty sure I saw them a long time ago when they were participating in Shindig (maybe 2007? so after I was there every week, but before I stopped going entirely). I have a personal fondness for the stripped-down sounds of a guitar-drum two-piece. Add in serious vocal chops and yeah – just see the Pack AD if you enjoy garage rock, at all. There’s a line in their official bio that is pretty perfect, and true:

the Pack A.D. have owned every spotlight and stolen every show they’ve ever played. Becky and Maya are relentless and riveting, playing with the kind of fuck-off freedom that makes everybody in the room vicarious rock stars, even if it’s just for the night.

Wolf Parade is really a tale of two bands: Spencer Krug’s Wolf Parade, and Dan Boeckner’s Wolf Parade. And they really are two bands dressed up at once explains why still, some seven years later, the same line still applies – they don’t really know how to run a concert. There’s awkward silences (they had technical difficulties tonight as well), for most of the night there didn’t seem to be a lot of joy on stage, and while no one can fault their musicianship, they didn’t seem particularly tight for a band that’s been around as long as they have (even given their long hiatus).

Songs that Spencer (keyboards) sings lead on (and presumably, wrote), are synth/keyboards-driven melodic garage pop. They are ambitious, involve everyone in the band, are lyrically more diverse. Songs that Dan (guitar) sings lead on (and presumably, wrote), are straight-up guitar-driven guitar rock. Both are excellent – but different. I definitely have a preference, based on last night’s show, on Spencer’s version of the band (at the same time, it wouldn’t be nearly as good a band, or show, if it was just his stuff). Everyone seemed more involved, more together on those songs. Perhaps they are more difficult to play? Not sure.

It’s worth noting that by the end of the night, they’d really come together. What was a really rough start was totally put aside by their finale, an amazing, long, high-energy jam to end the night. It was the first time all night I saw Dan and Spencer looking at each other, smiling, playing with each other. If that’s the band that’ll show up the next couple of nights (this was the first of 3 shows at the Imperial this week), everyone else is in for a real treat.

Review: Wolf Parade & Moools at the Vogue Theatre

I was pretty stoked about last night’s concert. Each of Wolf Parade’s albums have made into pretty high rotation with me, and when I last saw them live, opening for…I want to say The Walkmen, but I’m not sure that’s right, their energy was great. That carried through to last night’s show as well, although it wasn’t without fault.

Those dots in the lights? That's Wolf Parade

I had never heard of The Mools before. They’re an indie-rock trio from Tokyo who play complicated, jazz-infused rock. I loved it. Last night I tweeted that they were lead by a “stealth puppet-master drummer”. Which I think needs clarification. Their drummer was very understated, a surprisingly still drummer. At first, I wasn’t that impressed. But then they started messing with time signatures, and the lead singer/guitarist went off on these crazy, amazing solos and I noticed, like in all truly great rock bands, it all started and ended with the drummer. So thus the puppet-master, reeling out the other parts of the band, then, as the solos come to a close, bring them back in. Definitely see them live if you can, and check out their music.

After a short intermission which really only served to heat up the theatre even more as sweaty bodies milled about in uncomfortably close quarters, Wolf Parade came out. And they rocked hard. They really, really gave it a lot, which, as an audience member is always really rewarding when you can tell a band is really bringing it. Towards the end of the night they talked about this – that playing Vancouver is sort of like playing a hometown show and historically they had choked but were really happy with this show.

The pacing was pretty good, mostly alternating older & newer tracks. If I have a quibble, and I do, but it’s a minor one,  is that they don’t yet seem to know how to run a concert. They’re still  a fairly young band, and haven’t been headlining for that long, and it shows. There were some overly long silences, some awkward-odd as opposed to awkward-hip interactions with the crowd.