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Wolf Parade : Live in Baltimore

Written by: Jason Miller

I showed up at the front door of Baltimore’s sold out Ottobar on Saturday night and was greeted with a sign that directed me to a side alley entrance.  A few people, including members of Wolf Parade, were confused as to where exactly our preferred place of entry was located as we wandered down one of Baltimore’s apparently many shady dark paths.  As I stepped inside the speakeasy type side door, I was immediately transported into the movie Beyond Thunderdome.  No kidding. This place looked just like that scene in the Mad Max movie with the judges in the balcony.

Openers Holy Fuck even alluded to the similarity as they walked on-stage and exploded into thirty minutes of their special kind of improvised noise rock dance numbers.  Holy fuck indeed!  Their ultra-high energy performance quickly won over the early crowd as they broke out a variety of Casio keyboards straight from my childhood -- and I’m not talking Wesley Willis here either.  I couldn’t even begin to describe their sound or how they make it.  Hell, I didn’t even recognize half the instruments they played, if they were instruments at all.  The drummer was tight, which offered some much needed structure to the jams, and the seemingly out of place bass player produced a truly shock and awe display.  These guys have fun and it shows.  Go see them.

Wolf Parade greeted the sold out Ottobar with a new song featuring vocals by Spencer Krug and a really sweet guitar intro.  After a comment about Baltimore’s crime reputation, the Parade launched into a rockin It’s A Curse.  It’s amazing how a crowd can be straight-out owned so quickly.

As they tore through most of the new album, usually alternating between Spencer songs and the Dan Boeckner rockers, they paused briefly as Spencer announced, “We’re Wolf Parade from Montreal and we’ll try to play good.”  Another new song and a cover of the Handsome Furs’ Dumb Animals were well received mid set as well.  I thoroughly enjoyed the You Are A Runner into Fancy Claps segue as well as the mid-set extended jam version of This Hearts on Fire, with Boeckner channeling both Iggy Pop and The Boss simultaneously as the bearded Arlen Thompson carried the groove on his back as he pounded away on his kit.

Ex Hot Hot Heater Dante DeCaro stole the show as he alternated instruments from bass to guitar to percussion while knocking his mic stand into the crowd and destroying a set of chimes. Hadji Bakara translated his electronics almost better live, perfectly complementing the interplay between Krug and Boeckner especially on the amazing one-two punch of the set closers Disco Sheets (from the Wolf Parade Sub-Pop EP) and my personal favorite I’ll Believe In Anything which exploded at the end like the grand finale of the best fireworks show you’ve ever seen.

The shoulder-to-shoulder crowd got louder during what seemed like a long end of set break before the band came back with Secret Knives and the unbelievable extended Dinner Bells to close the show.  Sign me up as the grand marshall for this parade, I can’t wait to see them again.               


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