School of Seven Bells
January 30, 2011
@ The Warfield
So, how did everyone enjoy their night at the Planetarium with Interpol?
Not that Interpol is a bad band. In fact it's an excellent band -- at least on record.
Great live shows, however, always have a certain ebb and flow to them. Emotional highs and lows, dramatic peaks and quieter valleys. Fast, aggressive songs followed by mellower ones -- a sense that the set list has been put together with the idea of overall balance in mind.
Interpol's show last night at The Warfield had none of that. It did, however, have a fantastic light show, with the band spending most of the gig dramatically backlit in a way that gave more than a few nods to the '80s.
It takes more than cool lighting to make a great show, though. For example, it takes a band that knows how to put on a dynamic performance. And that's where Interpol fell flat.
The Planetarium analogy kept coming to mind because, honestly, why even bother going to see a band when their live show sounds exactly like their albums? (Well, that and the cool light show.) Although bass player David Pajo was trying to add a little excitement, he appeared to be the only member of the band who didn't have his feet superglued to the stage floor. Interpol may be a good band, but the guys in it aren't exactly dynamic performers. Last night was kind of like watching a really big, successful Joy Division tribute band, but without any of the genuine pain or anger that made Joy Division so compelling. The overall sense of gloomy, moody angst was there, but without any sense of real trauma underlying it.
Things did liven up a bit towards the end, with a few audience members actually breaking out the dance moves for "NYC" and "Obstacle 1." There was applause throughout, so perhaps the rest of the audience found the whole thing more exciting than your reviewer did. But the view of an almost unmoving pit from the balcony was a bit depressing, and the whole thing felt sort of anti-climatic, as if the audience was waiting for a final crescendo that just never came.
The crowd: All ages, lots and lots of hipsters, more plaid shirts than a lumberjack convention.
Overheard in the crowd: Absolutely nothing. One of the least chatty crowds I have ever seen.
Random notebook dump: "Wait, isn't this the same bridge the last song had? No, it just sounds the same, kind of. Oh look, there it is again!"
Did you know?: Interpol are down to only two out of four original members.