On any other given night, this Wolf Parade show would have been a mostly-awesome-sort-of-flat-in-places kinda gig. In my review of that imaginary show I’d likely waffle somewhat, and say it was a 7 or an 8′er. The set started a bit awkwardly, the band sort of nervous, slightly disconnected, rolling through “Soldier’s Grin”, a decent “What Did My Lover Say (It Always Had to Go This Way”) and a few others (see the set list below) until about halfway through.
But I can’t waffle about Wolf Parade’s gig at the Commodore Ballroom in Vancouver on May 30th. May 30th was marked by a sky-high sense of occasion. May 30th marked the final show of the Quebec-based band (with ties to Vancouver).
“This is going to be our last show in a shit shit shit shit-long time and we’re glad it’s back in Vancouver,” said singer/keyboardist Spencer Krug as he peered out into the crowd, flanked by bassist Dante DeCaro, guitarist/co-vocalist Dan Boeckner and drummer Arlen Thompson. “This is kind of a home show for us,” he said, acknowledging the band’s history out west. Friends sat sidestage. Family members – including Krug’s dad, to whom he dedicated “You Are a Runner and I am My Father’s Son” – looked on. Brian from Japandroids and Steve Bays from Hot Hot Heat watched from the floors. It wasn’t a sold-out crowd – the show had been announced only two weeks earlier – but it was a faithful one.
And the faithful were rewarded…
….Because by “Shine a Light” something shifted for Wolf Parade. They seemed to realize, in a different way, away from nerves, that this would be their last show. LIKE FOREVER OR MAYBE FOR NOW but still LAST. They played fiercely, hungrily, manically. Krug kneeled on a soft stool and pushed it away and pulled it back with one leg while staring down his keys. The audience responded, frantic. “I’ll Believe in Anything” was huge. Arms were raised and fans in the front row belted out songs, volleying Wolf Parade’s own lyrics back to them.
There were big gestures. A hug from a friend (or family member) who came on stage and interrupted an opening to an encore. Then the band, called out a second time after two long hours , took to the stage just after 1am and mumbled something about “if anyone wanted to come up and sing along”, they could. So one guy hopped on stage. Then another. Then soon the stage was filled with…EVERYONE. The audience joined the band, yelping out Dylan’s “Knockin’ on Heaven’s Door” into the mics as they crowded around their almost-hometown heroes. It was the swan song. Dan Boeckner even pushed himself out front and turned around to play the final notes as he took in what was going down.
But there were smaller, more important moments, too. There was a moment – my favourite – when, during the enormous instrumental outro freakout of “Kissing the Beehive”, Spencer Krug – who’d sort of seemed bewildered for most of the night, hidden under his floppy hair – looked to his left to see his bandmate Dan Boeckner grinding away and punishing his guitar, all punk-faced and lost in a moment, just WAILING on the thing, and Krug smiled, very slightly. Then he looked to his right at Dante DeCaro, who, like Boeckner, was bent down, barefooted and hammering his bass, and Krug smiled again. It was a sad and fleeting moment, but also a sweet one. It said enough. Thanks, Wolf Parade! \m/
Wolf Parade, Final Show, May 30, 2011 Setlist
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