There’s no wrong night for a Wolf Parade concert. The Montreal quartet is a frenzied yet polished Tasmanian devil of intricate keyboards and snarled vocals. Their show Tuesday night at the Fillmore was a welcome return for the band following a seven-year hiatus in which co-leaders Dan Boeckner and Spencer Krug spiraled off into side projects before returning to release a new album, Cry Cry Cry, last fall.
Sure to deliver a hearty helping of energy and sweat-drenched charisma, any evening would serve as the perfect backdrop for a Wolf Parade gig. However, things were even better thanks to the blessed scheduling that placed them at the Fillmore midweek, when the music scene’s local fairweather masses were least likely to burden fans with their presence.
Anyone who enjoys seeing concerts in the Bay Area knows the type: If they aren’t wearing a hoodie advertising the startup they work for, they’ll mention it (loudly) in short order. They never seem to know the artist in question in well, but instead seem to be making an appearance for the social karma they find connected to being at certain shows. It would be one thing if these musical parasites actually paid for their tickets, but for the most part they are attending for free, enjoying the generosity of a label or promoter who has brokered (in good faith) some partnership with their employer.
In some senses, their absence is thus almost as annoying as their presence — I’ve heard from several people in the local music scene that sold-out shows can look like ghost towns thanks to the lack of importance people seem to place on the gratis tickets they’re offered.
Folks, if you get tickets to a show, you either go and enjoy yourself or you let the person who gave them to you know you can’t make it. You aren’t RSVP’ing to a barbeque, and it’s an insult to the artists in question when the space where a fan should be standing is instead occupied by thin air.
These gripes are but part of the reason seeing Wolf Parade set the Fillmore ablaze on Tuesday was such an immense delight. Everyone at the Fillmore seemed so stoked to be there — mouthing the lyrics to early album cuts like “This Heart’s on Fire” and “I’ll Believe in Anything.” Krug, Boeckner, and company gave it right back to them, applying a downright ferocious tenacity to their craft as they traded vocals and stormed their way through the center of lengthy jams like “Baby Blue.”
Seeing a band that has long been dormant back in the flesh is always a joy, but with Wolf Parade the sensation was amplified. Coming out of an early 2000s scene that also saw the rise of acts like Broken Social Scene and Arcade Fire, it’s a thrill to have Wolf Parade back at a moment when Coachella’s 2018 lineup features zero rock bands as headliners. The cyclical nature of musical tastes leaves one to believe that rock will once again storm back, as it has in past recent bursts on the backs of acts like the White Stripes, Arctic Monkeys, and the Strokes.
For now though, let’s be glad we have Wolf Parade. Be it Krug’s meticulous keyboard work or Boeckner’s delirious guitar theatrics, there’s no way to watch this band for more than a few minutes and not come to the conclusion that they are a walking billboard for why we all need live music in our lives.
It would also be a crime not to pay tribute to opener Charly Bliss, a New York City outfit fronted by Eva Hendricks. Imbued with a bit of Kim Deal swagger, Hendricks had no intention of letting Wolf Parade have all the fun as her band took nary a breath between songs ripe with catchy hooks and a Hole-era menace. It won’t be the last time they play the Fillmore, but possibly the last time they aren’t the main attraction.
This double-dose of revitalized rock was medicine for the ears of those who crave the squelch of a guitar and the bellow of a kick drum. That it was a night populated by true fans with sincere enthusiasm made for one truly special occasion.
The secret is out: Tuesday nights are for rock fans. Your Netflix will still be waiting, and your Wednesday morning will still suck regardless, so why not give in to the spectacle of a weekday evening spent shoulder to shoulder with San Francisco’s finest: music fans who want to be there.