November 12, 2010
The turn out was epic in its minutiae when Wolf Parade played the Fillmore in Miami Beach the other night, and keyboardist /singer Spencer Krug would remind the audience of the fact throughout the set. He even said, “This is our first time in Miami and probably the last” citing concerns no promoter would ever have them down again. “Someone lost a shit ton of money,” he added.
Still, the indie prog-rock influenced outfit would not skimp on the energy when it came to their songs. Despite Krug’s bitching in between several songs, these boys from Canada tore into their music with some of the highest energy I have seen on that stage.
Still, it was a worrisome site when I arrived uncharacteristically late to the venue (almost an hour after doors had opened). There were so few people inside the Miami Beach Fillmore– the site of sold-out performances for MGMT, Vampire Weekend and Phoenix just last month– that one could hear the barmaid in the corner of the hall from across the room mutter to herself: “Shut up. This is Awful,” as she looked up from texting on her smartphone at the smattering of 50 or so people who wandered to the front of the stage when opening band Ogre You Asshole started their set.
Here’s an image of the stage just a few minutes before Ogre You Asshole took the stage with said barmaid in the corner (on phone):
But, wouldn’t you know it, the bands played with more heart than most I saw during Rocktober. Though playing to only about 50 or so people in a theater designed to hold 1,000, Ogre You Asshole charmed the audience almost immediately with their hyper-melodic and intricate songcraft. The four boys from Japan were amazingly tight and melodic and held everyone’s attention even while singing entirely in Japanese. The band members played with exacting precision and little flash (there was no set dressing on stage whatsoever except for a large fan, only there to serve a practical purpose).
Despite, the fear-inducing name of the band, Ogre’s songs were nice and meandering—almost cute. Their MySpace page features many songs across their three-album plus career, which mostly other indie US musicians have appreciated, being a band’s kind of band.* Krug would later acknowledge this was Ogre’s first US tour. I was able to capture “Balance” on video:
Turns out it ain’t easy getting their music in the US, so I was glad I picked up the vinyl for their second album, Alpha Beta vs. Lambda. The whole band was at their own merch stand, which was crowded with new appreciative fans. I had them sign the album cover after I bought it (yes, and they are smart enough to include a CD copy, as well):
After Ogre played there was a lengthy pause before Wolf Parade came out (probably in hopes of a larger audience). Still, the maximum number of audience members probably would not exceed 150, and it looked like half of those were with dates who did not really want to be there. Still the Miami Wolf Parade fans responded to the Canadian quartet’s angular, prog pop with an enthusiasm that made up for their lack of numbers. Here are a couple of pictures I took that captured that energy:
Here, a fan can’t contain his enthusiasm while riding on another fan’s shoulders:
One the first videos I made was for one of their punchier new songs, “Palm Road”:
Krug may have sounded dismal between songs (at one point he noted how pretty the giant chandeliers high overhead were but how he had to avert his gaze from them to keep from feeling depressed about the turnout). But his band tore into their catalog with ferocity.
May I present a pretty sped up and enthusiastic version of “Ghost Pressure,” also off the new album Expo 86:
It was all about the music and Krug and fellow vocalist/guitarist Dan Boeckner pushed their voices and slammed on their instruments reaching for the high empty balcony seats (notice the echo in the video). If they had a set list, they must have damned it because, in the end they even invited requests. Here is one they took, “Oh You, Old Thing”:
After that new number off Expo 86, the band reached into their back catalog to close with the lengthy 10-minute finale off 2008’s At Mount Zoomer, “Kissing the Beehive.” It offered a great range of dynamics and changes, true to Wolf Parade’s undeniably prog-roots (one hip chick called them “King Crimson-y”). Here is “Kissing the Beehive,” captured in its entirety:
It looked like there would have been no encore. The house lights went on soon after Wolf Parade left the stage, and the recorded music came on, yet the crowd, which had diminished even further would not let up cheering. The band came out and Krug said “We weren’t planning on coming back out,” but he expressed some genuine gratitude and the band played a song Krug introduced as a song he heard several members of the crowd scream out for: “Fancy Claps.”
That was it for the encore, despite another attempt by fans to get the group out, chanting “One more song, one more song!” Hopefully, this truly does not mean the end of Wolf Parade’s visits to the Miami-area. There are an array of venues that could appear packed for these guys, should the promoter choose the right spot. There is certainly a passionate Wolf Parade following in South Florida. Maybe they need one of their songs featured in a TV commercial to get noticed by the other Miami “indie” hipsters.
*According to the All Music Guide, Modest Mouse’s bassist Christened the band, and I had personally first heard about them on the blog of Bradford Cox (of Deerhunter and Atlas Sound). Apparently, Atlas Sound had toured with Ogre in 2008, but in Japan.