Wolf Parade look (and sound) happy to be together again

Dan Boeckner and Spencer Krug were all smiles during the electrifying final show in their reunited indie band’s five-night stand at Lee's Palace

WOLF PARADE at Lee’s Palace, Saturday, May 28. Rating: NNNN

It’s only been five years since Wolf Parade announced an indefinite hiatus, but for some reason it feels much longer than that.

After releasing only three albums, the Montreal indie band’s retirement seemed premature. Even though core members Spencer Krug and Dan Boeckner went on to release multiple albums with other bands, they’ve always sounded the most electrifying together.

So when Wolf Parade announced a reunion tour earlier this year, it wasn’t surprising that all five Toronto shows sold-out within hours. Accordingly, there were palpable senses of giddy anticipation and surreal wonderment during the final night of their Lee’s Palace residency.

The show began with You Are A Runner And I Am My Father’s Son, which, as the opener of their debut (and most cherished) record, Apologies To The Queen Mary, was the most fitting way to kick off the night. The song’s pounding and crashing drums, Boeckner’s snarling guitar work and Krug’s volatile yelps sent the audience into a full-on frenzy. The momentum continued apace as Boeckner brought rock-star swagger to We Built Another World and Shine A Light while Krug diligently worked multiple keyboards.

After knocking off hit after hit from Apologies, as well as choice cuts from 2008’s At Mount Zoomer and 2010’s Expo 86, Krug announced they would play a few new songs. The new tunes did not have the same feverish energy as their earlier songs, but this mini interlude provided a nice sneak peek at the direction of a potential new LP: straightforward pop with streamlined melodies and fewer theatrics.

While it was mind-blowing to watch Boeckner go nuts during This Heart’s On Fire and see Krug lead a 500-person sing-a-long to I’ll Believe In Anything, the best part was witnessing how happy the entire band looked onstage together. During a Boeckner song, you would catch Krug grinning at his bandmate from across the stage as he lost himself in a guitar solo. You would also see Boeckner smiling at Krug as he hollered into the mic, one hand on a keyboard the other swirling in the air like a maestro.

It was clear Wolf Parade missed being on stage together. As the crowd cheered for a second encore — a first in the band’s history, apparently — it became clear that we missed them even more.

Additional notes:

– The setlist was written in cryptic code, perhaps for the band’s own amusement or to trick nosey front-row fans. For example, Dinner Bells = “D-Ballz,” Fancy Claps = “Fast Ballad,” We Built Another World = “Costello,” You Are A Runner And I Am My Father’s Son = “Fathers/NF.”

– One of Krug’s synths started acting up halfway through the set – a technical difficulty he blamed on his dripping sweat. Fortunately, he had two other keyboards to work with so the problem didn’t interfere with the rest of the show.

– After the band called themselves “Wolf Parade 2.0” someone started chanting “2.0, 2.0, 2.0” and Boeckner declared it the best chant of the tour so far.

– The tension between overzealous mosh pitters and ironclad arms-crossed dudes reached its peak during the encore performance of I’ll Believe In Anything. It looked like a tiff was going to break out, but it resolved before Krug could yelp the final line from the song: “Because nobody knows you/And nobody gives a damn either way.”

music@nowtoronto.com | @SamEdwardsTO

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