Sunday, March 27, 2005

Nobody searches/ and nobody cares, somehow...

The most pressing question at concerts these days is not "Does looking like you're 15 make it alright to wear a backwards trucker hat" (A: no, and wearing it forward wouldn't help matters) or "Will you please shut the fuck up" (A: probably not), but "What does it mean if you wear a Joy Division t-shirt to an Interpol show?"

I really don't know. Are you showing that you were into Interpol before Interpol even existed? If so, bravo. This is brilliant. A sign of protest? If so, you spent a fair amount of money to voice your dispeasure. Last clean shirt in the wash? Hell, I wore a "Federal Bikini Inspector" shirt, so I feel your pain.

I like Interpol despite my hate of bands that ape their predecessors. And goddamn if Mr. Interpol Singer doesn't sound exactly like Ian Curtis on top of the Joy Division-level feel. It should drive me nuts, but after months of not liking Turn On The Bright Lights when it first came out, I loved it. It just got under my skin and I forgave them for all their sins. It was the sonic equivelant of the Stockholm Syndrome and I was their Patty Hearst.

But live... eh. Interpol was good, but it wasn't like they brought too much to the live setting. Maybe it wouldn help if I knew Antics better. All their stage presence came from their bassist, Crispin Glover. (Crispin Glover, who suppoesedly goes by a "stage name" also did an aftershow DJ set at DC9 afterward.) Beyond that, it was pretty much by the numbers and lacked surprises, besides an extra long false ending during "PDA". Don't get me wrong: it was good. It just wasn't so much different from sitting at home, drinking less expensive beer, and listening to your iPod. Shouldn't concerts be more? Shouldn't there be an energy in the air? Even with a packed house full of fans, the show never really soared.

Maybe they're not built to be amazing live. Their sound is all about control, almost the reining-in of emotion. Even the fast songs sound like the band is in complete control. Bands don't have to swerve off the road like early Replacements shows, but maybe there should an element of danger. And if there is complete control, shouldn't there be some sort of emotional, deep-down connection with the audience? The band dresses in crisp suits, and even on record they sound like they do. They're basically entrepeneurs, and they're selling us something. There's no need for true-blue emotion. Can they break from formula and look like they don't have complete control over their look, their songs, or us? Maybe they're afraid that if they do, we won't buy.

But good lord, Blonde Redhead. It was like Radiohead scoring a Japenese noir film. It was hypnotic, sexy, moody, mysterious. Perfect. It's the soundtrack to a doomed love affair, something involving guns and drugs and tragic choices. When the drummer from Interpol came out to play a second drum set during one song, culminating in a doubled-drum coda, it was probably the highlight of the night. Unfortunately, the highlight of the night shouldn't come during the opening act.


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