Thursday, September 18th, 2003
Most times when I write up a review of a concert, I do my best to spin it to the positive – It’s not often I can’t find anything redeeming about a show that I’ve paid good money to attend, I like to think I’m more discriminating than that. Well you can’t win them all.
From the top – we didn’t arrive in time to see Broke Revue, so the evening started with second-billed ex-Montrealers The Stills. Part of the second- or third-wave of hip, shaggy haired bands in the New York scene right now, The Stills prove there’s really not much depth in that particular musical pool. Their half-hour set was generic, derivative and pretty fucking dull. I laid blame for this on a couple key points – the absence of any interesting vocal melodies whatsoever and quite possibly the most boring drummer I’ve ever had the opportunity to see live. His time was solid (except when he tried a fill) and his drumming patterns had the 80s drum machine beside me complaining, “what the fuck is he doing? I can drum better than that!” Yeah. There were a couple songs where it sounded like they might actually do something interesting, but too little too late.
It was up to Interpol to salvage the night but unfortunately, they weren’t up to the task. At this point I’d like to refer back to my review of their show a year ago at the Horseshoe, particularly when I said “Interpol will be back next year sometime, but the snob in me already knows that show won’t be as good as this one was”. Turns out I was bang on, but it wasn’t the snob in me so much as the precognative.
Granted, the Kool Haus is an unforgiving venue for sonics, but I have heard it sound good so I know it’s possible. Last night was not one of the good sounding ones – the vocals were distorted and by the encore, the speakers were beginning to crap out. It wouldn’t be fair, however, to blame the venue entirely for what was coming out of the speakers. Things started out promisingly enough, with the band making full use of their Spritualized-sized new lightshow by back-spotlighting Daniel Kessler in pitch blackness as he played the opening chords to “Untitled”, but that was pretty much the high point of the night. The lighting effects were overused such that all you could see were five vague silhouettes for most of the show. It’s called ‘restraint’, fellas, look it up.
The set list was nearly identical to that of a year ago with three new songs thrown in, but execution was way off from the last show. While the rhythm section was still pretty tight, the guitars were exceedingly sloppy – something that a band built around tightly wound arrangements simply can’t afford. Paul Banks’ vocals were thin and pinched, lacking any weight. The biggest complaint, however, was the lacklustre delivery. Whereas a year ago the band projected great energy, this time they seemed indifferent and disinterested. I understand you’re a little burnt out after a solid year of touring, but if you’re not up to it, don’t fucking do it. It’s more insulting to show up and phone it in than to not show up at all.
So to sum up – I can’t say the show was BAD, per se, but it was pretty boring (I’m not the only one to think so, either, I have testimonials from a number of other independent sources) and not a patch on their show last year.
np – Fountains Of Wayne / Welcome Interstate Managers