Posted in music | pictures on December 7, 2009

words & photos by Anna Scialli

The Wrens

AVC: Why the long gap between Meadowlands and this record [that is coming out in 2010]?

Charles Bissell: There's no easy answer, although part of it [is] we needed a break. The funny thing is, we toured all the time, had jobs, and did a couple weekends a month. The biggest thing I guess was the last record took so darn long to make and a lot of it was pretty boring stuff. A lot of it was how we work as a band and how we brought in songs. I vowed never to do that again--never to take four years [with a record]--but it took five years to ensure that would never happen. [Laughs.]

To celebrate the 20th year of the Wrens' music career, the New Jersey natives played three sold out shows Thursday (12/3) and Friday night (12/4). Each show's setlist had a different theme: Thursday's setlist was comprised by songs selected by fans via email, Friday's early show was the 2003 album, The Meadowlands, played from front to back, and Friday's late show was mostly new material.

Friday's first show drew a full crowd as early as 7:30 PM which is when Brooklyn-based Palomar took the stage. The quartet played fun, catchy pop songs that got the crowd moving. After a tight, enjoyable set Palomar wrapped up, joking that they needed to leave two hours for the Wrens: "one for each decade."

"Hi, we are the Wrens, and we're 20 years old," exclaimed Wrens vocalist and bassist, Kevin Whelan. The Wrens tore through the tracklist of the Meadowlands, occasionally making asides to talk about the significance of their band's longevity. Fan favorites such as "Happy" and "Everyone Chooses Sides" brought the crowd to their feet, yelling the words along. As per usual at their shows, the Wrens handed out drumsticks and invited fans on stage to play percussion along with "Boys, You Won't."

AVC: How did the Maxwell's Meadowlands shows come together?

Charles Bissell: It came about because it's our 20th anniversary this year. It was also Merge [Records]'s 20th anniversary, and they had a festival. People reunited, exhumed Lincoln's body, there was a papal visit. We felt like we were missing our own boat; not a lot of bands get there. If you only put out three records in 20 years, so be it! [Laughs.]

While the Wrens may be considered past their prime based on the sheer length of their career, their excitement and enthusiasm on stage proves the opposite. More pictures from the "Meadowlands" show below...

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Palomar

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The Wrens

The Wrens

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The Wrens

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The Wrens

The Wrens

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The Wrens

The Wrens

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Comments (15)

meadowlands set ruled.

Posted by Anonymous | December 7, 2009 1:30 PM

put up some crappy flipcam videos. hey, they're something.

http://vimeo.com/user2303552/videos

Posted by Anonymous | December 7, 2009 1:31 PM

" Fan favorites such as "Happy" and "EveryoneChooses Sides" brought the crowd to their feet, yelling the words along."

Aren't people already standing since Maxwell's has no seats??

Posted by Anonymous | December 7, 2009 1:57 PM

Yes, the Meadowlands set did indeed rule.

Posted by Anonymous | December 7, 2009 1:58 PM

Late set fortunately only had like 3.5 new songs, and they were good. They still played almost all the hits (though I was surprised they didn't play Indy 500!). Great fucking set.

Posted by Drucker | December 7, 2009 2:14 PM

The first time I saw the Wrens (in 2004), Palomar was the opener. And Meadowlands was the most recent album. So here we are in 2009--and time has stood still, or at least moves very slowly. I figure if I am lucky I might hear one or two more Wrens albums before I die--but only if I stay really healthy. Here's hoping !

PS to Charles: if the new album actually does come out in 2010, that's a 7-year gap, not 5....I'm just sayin'.....

Posted by david z | December 7, 2009 2:17 PM

Most overrated band ever.

Sorry.

Posted by Anonymous | December 7, 2009 2:18 PM

"Most overrated band ever.

Sorry."

Yes, yes you are a sorry bastard.

Posted by Anonymous | December 7, 2009 2:22 PM

You're an idiot.

Posted by Anonymous | December 7, 2009 2:26 PM

i remember when wrens were on grass records...just a random 99 cent bargain bin band with an amazing album. meadowlands was better...i saw them at luna lounge during cmj...maybe 2002?

great band...very happy they are what they are.

Posted by Anonymous | December 7, 2009 2:30 PM

How can a band with such a small, dedicated cult following with seemingly no national stature be the most overrated band ever? Can we ban clearly not-thought-out hyperbole from message boards?

Posted by Anonymous | December 7, 2009 3:06 PM

no photos of when the crowd went on stage? lame

Posted by Anonymous | December 7, 2009 3:31 PM

Thursday show was sick

Posted by Anonymous | December 7, 2009 4:07 PM

Early Friday Show = Attempts at tight songs that started slow to encourage crowd noise and create a better live feel for their upcoming EP.

Late Friday Show = Shots, drinks, screams, and an out and out party.

Least Favorite Part of Friday- Will Scheff being in attendance for the early Friday show and not playing Ex-Girl Collection during the late show (he was just there as a fan).

Favorite Part of Friday- Spoke with one member of the band after the late show and asked him where the party was going from there. To his response, "Where else? This is it man...My kid's got basketball practice at 9 am that I'm coaching" (it was about 2 am at that point).

A really great night and both sets were fantastic. Although they had a lot of crossover songs both sets felt completely different.

Also- Some pretty cool show only merch at the show.

Posted by Travis | December 7, 2009 4:23 PM

The Meadowlands set was outstanding. So fucking good. They accidentally switched the order of two songs in the middle, playing Ex-Girl Collection before Boys, You Won't. Charles yelled "Do over!" Yeah, I too was hoping Will Sheff would go up and sing Ex-Girl, per his cover.

The late show was sloppy-good and fun as hell. I was honored to help Jerry bring up their beers and sit on stage for a song (even if it was a new one that sounded kinda like Coldplay).

Happy 20th Anniversary, Wrens!!!

Posted by olivery | December 7, 2009 4:48 PM

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