I’ve never climbed a mountain, but I imagine it would be something like a Wolf Parade show. When you’re making your way up the steep incline, you meet various topography along the way. On your way up, you reach flat planes, have to jump over rocks, carve your way through pathways and maybe even caves.
Hearing Wolf Parade play to a sold-out audience at the Beachland Ballroom last night was similarly exhilarating. Soaring guitar parts and rushes of synths get us from one section of a song to another, not necessarily taking the straightest or simplest path.
When songwriters Dan Boeckner and Spencer Krug team up, their songs veer off the standard path, arcing into weird segues and misleading bridges that always reach a peak. Like finding yourself standing on top of a mountain you just spent days climbing, those moments left the audience short of breath and very, very high.
Boeckner and Krug — along with bassist/guitarist/keyboardist Dante DeCaro and Arlen Thompson on drums — worked their twisted magic on Cleveland with a set list of favorites from all three of their albums.
They melded melodic guitar parts and with more rhythmic guitar lines, causing every note played to stand out. So often, when you have three guitars going at once at a loud rock show, you lose the clarity. That was not the case last night.
Even when their playing was sloppy, it felt intentionally haphazard — most likely because Wolf Parade are aware that their music feeds best off spontaneity.
Wolf Parade released their most recent album, Expo ‘86, just a couple weeks ago, and much of the set proved that new songs like “Cave-O-Sapien,” “Palm Road,” and “Pobody’s Nerfect” stand up to old hits like “Dear Sons and Daughters of Hungry Ghosts,” “Fine Young Cannibals,” and “I’ll Believe in Anything.”
The Montreal band closed the set with “California Dreamer,” a song that sounds as if it might have been a surf-rock radio hit if it was released in the ‘60s with less electric guitar. “Shine a Light” began the encore; the 11-minute distorted prog epic “Kissing the Beehive” concluded it.
Never was there a moment that I felt like climbing back down from the mountaintop. Leaving on some sort of higher plane than we started, fans at the Beachland walked out of the club with an odd sense of achievement. And maybe sore feet. —Danielle Sills