It was Sunday night at Canes and indie rock heroes Wolf Parade were about to perform, yet the crowd didn’t seem excited at all. The stripped down guitar and tribal trashcan percussion of opening duo Listening Party had been received with polite but moderate enthusiasm by an audience where those wearing backwards hats and polo shirts vastly outnumbered the people with the tight jeans and flat-ironed hair. As the crowd quietly milled about the venue between sets, it seemed as though Wolf Parade could expect a similarly tepid reaction. But when the Montreal quintet finally took the stage and the first notes rang out from the amps, they were met with a fanatical and frenzied reception that was anything but lukewarm.
Beginning their set with â€œYou Are A Runner And I Am My Fatherâ€™s Sonâ€ and â€œSoldierâ€™s Grinâ€, the opening tracks off 2005â€™s Apologies To The Queen Mary and 2008â€™s At Mount Zoomer, respectively, Wolf Parade were a well-oiled machine, nimbly maneuvering their songsâ€™ wild mood swings and ever-changing time signatures without missing a beat.
Saturdayâ€™s â€œHipsters Revisitedâ€ at Bar Pink Elephant was a â€˜60s themed event that promised music of the garage, psychedelic, and freakbeat varieties, all while making assurances that there would be â€œno weird shit or flutesâ€. They made good on these promises with some trippy mood-lighting and an assortment of DJs spinning appropriately obscure tracks from the period, but the real draw was a live performance by local retro-rock band The Loons.
Long blond hair hanging in his face, Loons lead singer Mike Stax commanded the stage with all the raw power of an anachronistic Iggy Pop as the band blazed through a set that recalled garage acts Love, The Sonics, and The Thirteenth Floor Elevators. After grabbing everyoneâ€™s attention with â€œRed Dissolving Raysâ€, Stax joked that, in honor of Gay Pride week, he was dedicating the song â€œMy Timeâ€ to Texas, â€œthe gayest state of allâ€.
Frightened Rabbit is one of the best bands out there that you can still see in a small club. They’re comprised of two brothers and two multi-instrumentalists: singer/songwriter/guitarist/whisky sipper Scott Hutchison, his brother Grant (who destroys drumsticks and provides vocal harmonies), and Billy Kennedy and Andy “Medusa” Monaghan who both alternate on keys, guitar, and bass.
Legend has it that as a kid, Scott was compared to a Frightened Rabbit for his lack of social skills, but you wouldn’t know it from this show. Hutchison’s between-song banter was often hilarious and he showed no shortage of the fabled Scottish charm; he even exuded silliness as he discussed a “plectrum” (pick) that someone had given him.
For a band whose live performances are marked by their theatricality and infectious intensity, The Silent Comedyâ€™s recordings can be surprisingly intimate affairs. Their debut full-length, Sunset Stables, emphasized narrative and restraint over whiskey drinking and foot stomping, and now, on their self-titled EP, they pick up where that record left off.
From the opening moments of maudlin country ballad â€œDaisyâ€, The Silent Comedy draws you into a rich world of broken bottles and shattered hearts. The song nimbly swells, retreats, then swells again, a ribcage barely containing the heart within. J. Johnâ€™s vocals intertwine in a tender duet with I. Forbesâ€™ gorgeous violin, and when he begs, â€œBreak me, Daisyâ€, itâ€™s hard to believe that she hasnâ€™t done so already.
A fever descended upon the sold-out Casbah as the Kills took the stage, seducing the crowd with their unique blend of blues, punk, and sex. The band drew mainly from their new album Midnight Boom, tearing into renditions of â€œU.R.A. Fever,â€ â€œTape Song,â€ and â€œSour Cherry,â€ but still touched upon old favorites like â€œFried My Little Brains,â€ â€œWait,â€ and â€œLove Is A Deserter.â€
Backed only by a drum machine, Alison “VV” Mosshart and Jamie “Hotel” Hince shared vocal duties, with Hotel playing the lionâ€™s share of guitar. The songs dripped with danger and excitement, such as on â€œNo Wow,â€ where the pair used their palpable on-stage chemistry to carry the song from its ominous, simmering beginning to an explosive conclusion that was equal parts sexual tension and musical release.