Arriving into Vicar Street after being slightly delayed I caught the prolonged final tune from support band Joensuu 1685. Apparently their previous songs were quite normal but this last one was absolutely mentalcakes©. The band hung lifelessly still while banging out a never-ending thudding beat and droning synth while the scattered crowd looked on calmly, neither impressed nor distressed by the extreme noise. It was a funny introduction to the evening for me, but probably a good way to gear people up for Wolf Parade’s set.
The Montréal band had attracted a sizeable crowd of dedicated fans and though they were for the most part restrained in their adoration, the sense of respect was clear. a few years ago, they might have sold out this gig but the room would probably have been populated by chit-chatting beer swillers. The bulk of the early part of the set was made up of tracks from the new album Expo 86 which is due to be released in June. Touring just before a new album presents a few problems, one of which being that the crowd aren’t familiar with the songs and may not respond or relate all that well. The other problem is that there are usually a bunch of people who have heard the album because it has leaked already. Dan Boeckner acknowledged this, pointing out that we would only know these songs if we had illegally downloaded the tracks which – if I heard correctly – he said he “completely condemned” [edit – I stand corrected by commenters below with less damaged hearing]. This little ticking off aside, the band were constantly appreciative of the audience’s attention during these new songs almost to the point of apologising. Directly after one such comment, the band launched into the classic “This Hearts On Fire” much to the somewhat relieved delight of the crowd. Can I actually call a song from 2005 a classic? Damn internet.
Some of the highlights were these songs from their first two albums, with a great performance of “I’ll Believe In Anything” as well as “Grounds For Divorce”. While Spencer Krug mostly spent his time hiding behind the keys and rocking out by himself, Boeckner was throwing himself around at every opportunity. His David Byrne-style losing-my-shit spaz-dance tended to make an appearance when his presence at the mic was required and full-on guitar assault when it wasn’t. With a decent hour or so already played, the band returned for a 3-song encore, with 3 old favourites presented, again, as if in compensation for the set based on new songs. This encore brought out the rowdiness in quite a few people around the room as they sought to bask in the scuzzy euphoria of the cult hits of the archetypical obscure indie-rock gods before leaving to await their inevitable return to these shores in one form or another.