Spencer & Dan
Zola Jesus' rise over the last year has been rather meteoric, and judging from her live performance, it isn't hard to see why the young artist has been the subject of so much hype. Even her name - Nika Roza Danilova - is commanding. Nika possesses (and I mean possesses) a rich, husky voice that boomed through the amps and powerfully resonated throughout the large space at Terminal 5.
Then there's her distinct aesthetic. Nika, now a platinum blonde, has a knack for theatrics. For Tuesday night's show, she wore a black cloak of sorts, complete with a large hood that effectively transformed her into a spectre when she pulled it on. At the beginning of her set, she paced slowly back and forth across the length of the stage, but with each song, her movements became more desperate and her hand motions, more exaggerated until the only thing left to do was to strike a dramatic pose.
The National's Matt Berninger sips chilled white wine and rushes the crowd during the more raucous songs. Nika Roza Danilova climbs on top of things and dramatically serenades the audience from on high. It seems to be her trademark. At last night's show, she perched atop an amp while singing the moody ballad, "Night."
Zola Jesus' music is a strange combination of subdued and melodramatic as if it can't quite decide what it wants to be, but maybe the point of interest lies in this stark contrast.
If Zola Jesus has been inescapable in the blogosphere lately, Moools has been sorely underrepresented despite their connection to K Records and artists like Modest Mouse and Deerhoof. When the band's three slightly-older men walked on stage, they were treated somewhat skeptically by the audience, but with their live instruments, jovial (attempts at) banter, and heavier sound, the Japanese trio definitely altered the mood of the room and quickly captivated the audience. There are no gimmicks or bells and whistles here - just straight-up rock. Instead of being the focal point, Moools' vocals are used more for ornamentation and to offset the quieter portions of the music.
While Zola Jesus didn't break character once to address the audience between songs or even to crack a smile, Moools clearly seemed to be enjoying themselves on stage, and it reflected in their music. Their guitar player was shaking with energy - as if his mass of wild, curly hair provided him with an otherworldly power source. Not even an impromptu fire alarm during their last song could hold them back. They soldiered on, through the high-pitched whistle and the blinking white lights.
Last year, Wolf Parade's two chief members, Spencer Krug and Dan Boeckner, each released albums with their side projects (Sunset Rubdown and Handsome Furs, respectively), but 2010 seems to be the year of the wolf. Their new album Expo 86 is arguably the most cohesive Wolf Parade album to date.
Wolf Parade are definitely pros at this point. They know how to put on a good show and how to engage the audience by keeping the banter to a minimum and letting the music speak for itself. When Boeckner or Krug spoke up at all, it was mostly to reiterate how thankful they were to be playing in NY. "A lot of bands say that playing in New York is something of a drag, but we've always had a blast playing here," said Krug.
Instead of relying on either their vocals or instrumentation, Wolf Parade excels at both. Krug and Boeckner keep things fresh by tag-teaming the vocal responsibility, and each of the four members adds a distinct flavor to the mix. It's normal for guitar solos to rock, but Wolf Parade also boasts some sick synth solos, as evidenced in the very first notes of their opening number, "Soldier's Grin."
Though the majority of their set consisted of songs from their new album, they also threw in a handful of older tunes, including, "Dear Sons and Daughters of Hungry Ghosts," "I'll Believe in Anything," and "Shine a Light." The energy may have swelled when they reach further back into their repertoire, but in general the crowd responded enthusiastically to old and new material alike. It was the new song "Cave-o-sapien" that initiated the crowd surfing - not something from Apologies to the Queen Mary.
Wolf Parade concluded their set with an impressive three-song encore that featured a song from each of their three albums. As if testing the patience of the Terminal 5 staff, they concluded with "Kissing the Beehive," a song so epic in scope that it's like a three-for-one deal.
As a testament to how hard the Montreal four-piece rocked, by the end of the night, band members and fans alike were dripping in sweat - despite the fact that the A/C was blasting. Terminal 5 may not be known for their sound system, but Wolf Parade somehow managed to conquer the challenges posed by such a large venue and came out shining.
Wolf Parade continue on tour, and can be found at the Pitchfork Festival this coming weekend. Their T5 setlist, more pictures and some videos, below...
Wolf Parade- "In The Direction Of The Moon" live at Terminal 5 on 7/13/2010
Wolf Parade- "What Did My Lover Say?" (it always had to go this way) live at Terminal 5 on 7/13/2010
Wolf Parade - California Dreamer @ Terminal 5
Wolf Parade's Set list
What Did My Lover Say? (It Always Had to Go This Way)
Dear Sons and Daughters of Hungry Ghosts
In the Direction of the Moon
Fine Young Cannibals
This Heart's On Fire
I'll Believe in Anything
Little Golden Age
Cloud Shadow on the Mountain
Shine A Light
Kissing the Beehive