Sunday, November 14, 2004

"Baby, Baby, You're Really the Best"

This is my Interpol show review post.

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First of all, that is so not my own photo of the concert. It's not even a photo of the concert that I was at.

Second of all, I definitely like Interpol a whole, whole lot. But even I notice that their lyrics . . . sometimes their lyrics are a little ridiculous, especially when coupled with Mr. Paul Banks' sort of robotic delivery. For example, this line from "Say Hello to the Angels": "Your hair is so pretty and red/Baby, baby you're really the best." Perhaps it's irony? Pop-trivialities transplanted into hard and heavy art-rock? But, then again, I like it when he sings "You are the only person who's completely certain there's nothing here to be into" in PDA, or when he suddenly says "Oh look it stopped snowing" in Roland.

When I saw Interpol last year (on the night of the Cubs' final game before not going to the World Series) they had just put out one album, so they didn't have too many songs to play . . . yet they still didn't play one of my favorite songs from Turn on the Bright Lights, "Obstacle 2." So, going into Friday night's show, I was pretty sure I wouldn't be hearing "Obstacle 2" (and I was right, they didn't play it) but I also correctly predicted that if Interpol didn't play my favorite Turn on the Bright Lights song, then they wouldn't be playing my favorite Antics song, "C'mere"--and I was right, again. I suppose I love being right.

Here's the "review" I wrote of the show for the NYU Law School newspaper:

Any night of the week, New York City offers a dizzying array of options for diversion. Should you have the time to take it up on any of these options, it’s easy to be left wondering if you picked the right way to pass the evening. Is this the right bar to be hanging out at? Is this the best restaurant to be eating at? Am I watching the right limited-run foreign film tonight? One often wishes for some profound indicator that they’re spending their free time in the best way possible.

While I didn’t feel I needed much reassurance to know I was at the right concert when I caught Interpol’s second of two sold-out shows at the Hammerstein Ballroom Friday night, I found reaffirmation in my choice when I noticed David Bowie (disguised in a fake mustache—I kid you not) enjoying the show just to my right. When you’re at the same rock concert as David Bowie, it seems a safe bet to say that there’s not a better show to be at in the city.

Not that Interpol needs a rock legend to validate their skill. Just as N*Sync came to dethrone the Backstreet Boys as Boy Band Kings, and Enrique Iglesias overtook Ricky Martin in the battle to be the heart-throbbingest of Latin Heartthrobs, it seems safe to say that Interpol is showing signs of having overtaken the Strokes as the band to be remembered from the recent New York City scene resurgence. Playing songs from their debut album, Turn on the Bright Lights, and their solid follow-up, Antics, Interpol kept their fans rocking through a twelve song set and two encores.

Since Interpol are known for their dark and stylish look with its accompanying cooler-than-thou-yet-gloomy mood, it may come as a surprise to people used to listening to the band through the subdued medium of headphones how hard and loud the band is live. While the band remains nearly motionless during performances (save for bassist Carlos D.’s strutting about stage), they produce a magnificently loud, crowd shaking noise. This was especially apparent when the band performed its “hit singles” “PDA” and “Slow Hands” and in its first-set closer, “Roland,” which ended in such a harsh wave of reverb that, for a moment, I thought I might be knocked over by the sound.

But it’s not to say that Interpol is incapable of being dark or moody live. The evening was begun with the organ-based Antics opener “No Exit” and closed with “Untitled”, the first track off of Turn on the Bright Lights (what parallelism!), both songs rendered especially moody and transporting by the Hammerstein’s stage lighting.

The concert’s crowd (aside from Mr. Bowie) was diverse collection of people who’s dress and behavior belied the neighborhoods they’d be returning to at the end of the evening—from Williamsburg hipsters playing it cool around the edges of the main floor to Upper East Side girls dancing in the balconies—it all served as an indicator that Interpol is branching out beyond their flavor-of-the-month early adopters without changing their sound to pander to popular tastes. If things keep going like this for the band, they’ll only continue to increase in popularity and release a style of music that is distinctively their own and remain the band to see when they’re in town.

Since I took the trouble to write it down while I was at the show, here's the evening's set list:
Next Exit/Say Hello To The Angels/Narc/Public Pervert/Evil/NYC/Hands Away/Slow Hands/Not Even Jail/Obstacle 1/Roland
Encore: Leif Erikson/PDA Second Encore: Untitled

Yeah, not only are some of their lyrics dumb, but most of their song titles are pretty odd, too.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Yeh, Mr. B is definitely a fan, I spied him there on Thursday as well (though due to the hideous nature of his "disguise" I wasn't convinced it was him at first). Intersting to see the set list, quite different from Thursday's offering. No Untitled , we got Stella for our finisher, and they seem to have eschewed my favourite track - The New - both nights as well. Excepting the moustache, the star of the evening ... definitely Carlos - the comb-over, the gun holster. Fascinating. He's not a patch on Kyle though - I don't want you to think I'm being disloyal! - Genevieve