Wolf Parade is the 2016 reunion you didn’t know you needed.
After a five-year hiatus, the Canadian indie rock heroes are back to playing their anthemic tunes, along with a few new tracks recently released on EP4. The guys performed with about five years of pent-up energy in their first shows back, a week-long residency at New York City’s Bowery Ballroom.
The show I attended was the third night of the residency, Thursday May 19th, with The Snails as the support act. The Snails is a Baltimore-based project from Future Islands lead singer Samuel T. Herring and bassist William Cashion. The band trudged onto the stage to “Tea Leaves” in pillowcase snail eyes, sunglasses, and garbage bag shells filled with balloons, and instantly burst into “Tight Side of Life”. While the premise is intentionally over-the-top ridiculousness, the music and Herring’s signature performing style is really fun.
As for the main attraction, guitarist/lead vocalist Dan Boeckner, keyboardist/lead vocalist Spencer Krug, bassist/guitarist/keyboardist Dante DeCaro of Wolf Parade, and drummer Arlen Thompson took the stage to an enormous ovation and exploded into Apologies to the Queen Mary lead track “You Are A Runner and I Am My Father’s Son”. Every song drew extended applause, as if every single audience member had been counting down the seconds until they could witness Wolf Parade once again. The atmosphere really elevated the show and the band drew from the energy bursting out of the legendary Lower East Side club. I consider myself an avid concert-goer and I would be hard-pressed to remember the last time I saw a band play with the kind of energy that Wolf Parade brought to the stage that night.
They drew from each of their three studio albums and the new EP4 equally, with highlights “Oh You, Old Thing”, “Mr. Startup” (also jokingly referred to as “Boy Division” or “Doy Division” due to its resemblance to “Love Will Tear Us Apart”), the set closing sequence of “This Heart’s On Fire” into “I’ll Believe In Anything”, and the show concluding with an epic rendition of At Mount Zoomer closing cut “Kissing the Beehive” featuring a solo from The Snails’ resident saxophonist. The two distinct vocalists traded off flawlessly, as only Wolf Parade can boast, and Krug’s Korg maneuvered around Boeckner’s thrashing guitar in their classic instrumental interplay and unique grooves. It’s the sound that Spoon and Modest Mouse founded, but would soon be injected with jittery pop and darker marching beats by Wolf Parade.
Every few songs, either Boeckner or Krug would mutter to themselves, “We haven’t played that one in a while.” Of course, they haven’t played many of their songs in a while, but they sound just as fresh and moving as when the millions of angsty teenagers first heard them and related to them. Wolf Parade will continue their reunion with various festival dates in 2016 after their residency in Toronto next week. Catch them if you can, because it’s an indie rock experience you should have in your lifetime.
Setlist (Thursday, May 19):
You Are a Runner and I Am My Father’s Son
What Did My Lover Say? (It Always Had to Go This Way)
Oh You, Old Thing
We Built Another World
Fine Young Cannibals
C’est La Vie Way
Dear Sons and Daughters of Hungry Ghosts
This Heart’s On Fire
I’ll Believe in Anything
Shine a Light
Kissing the Beehive
Wolf Parade – Bowery Ballroom, May 19, 2016 / Photo by Zach Silva