I’m not sure how it happened, but the Handsome Furs have somehow become my favorite Wolf Parade-related project that isn’t actually Wolf Parade. This is strange because of the Lennon/McCartney nature of the band. Spencer Krug was responsible for most of the best Wolf Parade tunes. But Dan Boeckner, Wolf Parade’s Paul I guess, has the better “side” band. Boeckner pulled a reverse Jack White, trading in a full band for his wife (Alexei Perry) to form the Handsome Furs in 2005. They make dancey electronic rock music with synthesizers and drum machines and a real guitar. I like them.
You know who else likes them? EVERYONE. The small crowd was weirdly enthusiastic, and the band certainly noticed, they could barely stop describing how amazed they were long enough to get a song out. When they did though, it sounded great. Their sparse synth-rock is the exact sort of thing that can be pulled off well without any live instruments (save Boeckner’s guitar) and with the band so excited they couldn’t possibly stand still, their knob-twisting never got boring. To be fair, they didn’t risk overstaying their welcome and barely played for an hour despite having three very solid albums to their name. I’m not sure how much longer they could have lasted anyway, Perry collapsed at the back of the stage when they were done, resting a moment before exiting. It’s hard to not enjoy the show when the band is that into it.
The first opener, US English, aside from being another electronic husband and wife duo was the complete opposite of the Handsome Furs. Not in quality, but in energy. Their music (and demeanor) is infinitely more subdued, more laid back. They’re quite good but I found myself liking specific sounds or ideas within the songs more so than the songs themselves. The talent and ability are all there, if they could only put it all together…
Following US English was Magical Beautiful. A band with several keyboards and also a trombone. Obviously this was a bad sign, but I enjoyed them for something like five minutes. The first tune was nothing but a dark, heavy repetitive beat with occasional vocals in the background. After that things took a turn for the worse and the rest of their set was comprised almost entirely of the worst sort of self-indulgent half-electronic improvised funk. Or maybe it wasn’t improvised? That’s even worse. Occasionaly it would turn back into something resembling a real song and almost get entertaining again, but I had long since lost interst.