Donnelly: Wolf Parade at the Granada

I’ll give you a topic: The Canadian indie-pop band Wolf Parade is comprised of neither wolves nor do they parade. 

Discuss.  

I probably would have been more entertained if there were a couple real-life wolves on stage, or at least a roadie with a wolf mask or something. That would have been an entertaining show.  

Instead, what the fairly large crowd at the Granada got was a loud, muddy, mish-mash of treble-y guitars and Mario Brothers synth keys. I’m pretty sure there were vocals on every song, but the lyrics may as well have been in Japanese like the opening act, Ogre You Asshole, because they were barely audible throughout the night. I thought for a moment I could identify a word or two, but I was mistaken.  

As the band wailed away there were some semi-compelling moments – just not nearly enough of them. Wolf Parade uses two keyboards, a guitar and drums quite a bit, but throws in a bass here and there or doubles up on the electric guitar from time to time. 

The best bits seemed to be some of the instrumental outros, bringing to mind the ambient, engine-racing-out-of-control noise that bands like Wilco skillfully create. The only problem was that, when Wilco does it, they race and race and race, and then, bam, it just drops back down to nothing. Wolf Parade never attempted that sort of contrast, so what started as a good idea, with disco back-beat swing, simply devolved into so much white noise.     

That being said, a few fans in attendance seemed enthusiastic about the band’s performance. One girl who had listened to the studio albums but never seen the band live told me the show was what she expected, maybe a little sub-par. 

Another guy in his late twenties thought the show was good, but maybe the sound was a little off. 

I would have to agree, although to be honest, the sound mix seems to be a recurring problem at the Granada.

I don’t know if it’s a function of too much wide open space and hard surfaces, the shape of the room, poor execution by the sound guy, or just the band’s levels onstage.  

Regardless, I came away from the show thinking that Wolf Parade’s studio albums are a lot more interesting than their live show. This due in large part to the fact that I couldn’t hear the Bowie-crossed-with-David Byrne vocals,one of the band’s trademarks. 

I mean, I get it –  live shows are usually (always) sloppier and looser than studio albums. That’s understandable and not a deal-breaker. But it’s never good when a band doesn’t even come close to delivering live what they deliver in the studio.

The highlight of the night came toward the end of the show, when I learned that Josh Selby had been cleared by the NCAA to play on December 18. As if on cue, the lead singer prodded the audience:  

“Where is everybody tonight, at a basketball game or something?”  

Um, yes. Next time, just say, “Rock Chalk.”    
 

Set List:

You Are a Runner and I Am My Father’s Son

Language City

What Did My Lover Say

Palm Road

Dear Sons and Daughters of Hungry Ghosts

Ghost Pressure

Oh You, Old Thing

Fine Young Cannibals

Cloud Shadow on the Mountain

This Heart’s On Fire

I’ll Believe in Anything

Shine a Light

California Dreamer

Encore:

Fancy Claps

Kissing the Beehive

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