Have you ever listened to a song and you swear to yourself you had to see this band to see if they are real? I came to the Wolf Parade party a little late. I had heard their second album, At Mount Zoomer, from a friend who had made a copy for me and I liked it, but for some reason it wasn’t until the follow up, Expo 86, that I really came around to see what amazing musicians and songwriters Wolf Parade are. The band reminded me of that at Ottobar on Aug. 29.
Previously, I missed seeing them twice in the area, and it wouldn’t be for another six years before I’d see them play at the Black Cat. I have to admit: I had given up being able to see them at all until a couple of years ago when I was in Chicago, and I happened to hear a song on the radio that I swore sounded like Wolf Parade. Waiting through the rest of the songs in the set, the DJ finally confirming that, yes, it was Wolf Parade (“Valley Boy”), and there was a new album forthcoming.
Wolf Parade, who hail from Montreal, put out their most recent LP, Cry, Cry, Cry, last year. It is a focused effort with catchy synth and distortion-driven songs. And some influences seem more obvious this time around, like The Cars on “Weaponized” and even some David Bowie on “Lazarus Online,” and some of the band’s strongest songs appear on Cry, Cry, Cry, such as the earworm “You’re Dreaming” and the frenetic “Baby Blue.”
Watch the official music video for “You’re Dreaming” by Wolf Parade on YouTube:
On a hot Wednesday night in Baltimore, Wolf Parade played a blistering set to a packed, sold-out crowd. Keyboardist Spencer Krug noted from the stage that it had been some time since they had played Baltimore. In fact, the last time they played here was a full eight years ago, and so for nearly two hours, Wolf Parade seemed to be making up for lost time.
To a very enthusiastic Baltimore crowd, Spencer (synths/vocals), Dan Boeckner (guitar/vocals), Dante DeCaro (bass/guitar/synth/vocals), and Arlen Thompson (drums) took the stage. And that stage seemed just as packed as the dance floor, but there was still plenty of room for some manic guitar riff exchanges between Dante and Dan. And to the screams of the crowd, the band started into “You Are a Runner and I Am My Father’s Son” and “Fancy Claps” both from their first album, Apologies to the Queen Mary.
Wolf Parade has a huge sound and the trade-off between Spencer’s and Dan’s vocals is seamless, but it’s those moments when their voices harmonize that you live for. It’s a sound that at times feels too big for the place, but you’re thankful that it’s there.
Most of the songs on the setlist came from last year’s Cry, Cry, Cry and Apologies to the Queen Mary (which was reissued a couple of years ago). In fact, the only song from Expo 86 was the brilliant “What Did My Lover Say?” with one of my favorite lines, “I got a sandcastle heart / Made out of fine black sand / Sometimes it turns into glass / When shit gets hot.”
Wolf Parade put on an absolutely fantastic performance, and one that was well worth the wait. I can’t wait until their next show in our area. Wolf Parade are continuing their tour through Canada and more can be found here.
You Are a Runner and I Am My Father’s Son
Grounds for Divorce
What Did My Lover Say? (It Always Had to Go This Way)
Shine a Light
Fine Young Cannibals
This Heart’s On Fire
I’ll Believe in Anything
Dear Sons and Daughters of Hungry Ghosts
Kissing the Beehive
Here are a few pictures of Wolf Parade performing at the Ottobar on Aug. 29, 2018. All photos copyright and courtesy of David LaMason.