Review and photos – Wolf Parade at the Commodore Ballroom, May 30, 2011
– review by Ria Nevada/photos by Ashley Tanasiychuk
Rumours had been milling around for weeks that Wolf Parade‘s show at the Commodore was going to be their final live performance (at least for a “shit shit shit long time”, according to founding member, vocalist and keyboardist Spencer Krug). The alternative-indie rock group had been on hiatus since Fall 2010 (almost immediately after the release of their last record Expo 86) and returned to the stage for a one-off stint at this year’s Sasquatch festival. The possible extinction of the Canadian supergroup brought hundreds of fans out on a Monday night in Vancouver.
Understandably, a mixture of anticipation and despondency lingered in the air of the ballroom. Actually, distracted might be the best way to describe the countenance of crowd at the beginning of the night. The low-key, folky sets of openers Himalayan Bear and Frog Eyes served as a pleasant backdrop for fans’ conversations about Wolf Parade’s dispersion, but didn’t generate much electricity in the venue.
It wasn’t until the technical crew began preparing the stage for the headlining act that the gravity of the event began to unfold. Steadfast fans who were able to manoeuvre their way to the front got a prime view of the hilarious artwork on Arlen Thompson‘s drumkit (Trekkies in particular would have chortled at the picture of the famous Klingon, Michael Dorn, under the words “Worf Parade” on the front of his kickdrum).
Quickly jumping in front of the crowd, Wolf Parade looked like they were ready for a grand ol’ time. Dante DeCaro looked right at home, chewing gum and relaxedly strumming on his guitar through “Dear Sons and Daughters of Hungry Ghosts” and “I’ll Believe in Anything”. Also on guitars and often lead vocals, Dan Boeckner‘s signature twitchy movements through upbeat hits like “Palm Road” and “This Heart’s on Fire” made him a major focal point on stage. Fortunately, we’ll still be able to catch this enthusiastic performer as he fronts his new band, Handsome Furs.
Hidden behind his wavy, brown hair and keyboard for most of the night, Krug finally held some heavy eye contact with the crowd on the synth-saturated “Oh You, Old Thing”. He also won the “most heart-warming moment” award of the night when he thanked his father for the support he provided the entire band with over the years. Krug’s old man graced the stage just before the end of the second encore, giving his son and his long-time friend Boeckner a big hug.
Wolf Parade has had a short but amazing run. In six years, they’ve released three inspired records, gone on close to a dozen international tours, and formed six off-shoot bands. But most importantly, it looks like these childhood friends have maintained a strong bond throughout their careers, and collected a strong legion of fans along the way.
The show ended with an open invitation to join the boys on their rendition of Bob Dylan‘s “Knocking on Heaven’s Door”, causing half of the evening’s turnout to spill onto the stage. The sentimental moment felt like a death knell for the band. But witnessing their amazing chemistry and sense of enjoyment from being in each other’s company, I’ll be surprised if the guys can resist getting together again for another record. Wishful thinking is the key here.
More Wolf Parade at the Commodore Ballroom photos: