I went to an Interpol concert last night, at Coconuts in downtown Tucson. The venue is intimate, especially with this tour. The place was well-nigh shoulder to shoulder all the way around. I didn't know of the show until 6:30 p.m., when I checked my e-mail, and a fellow grad assistant was trying to pawn some tix he couldn't use. Maybe he is one of those diligent folks that "works."
The opening act, Blonde Redhead, was an interesting mix of rock and roll theatricality and female screeching. The three piece band sounded horrible, and I feared for Interpol.
But that was unjustified. The stage was set up well for them, and the lights matched the moods of each song. Interpol is a five-piece band from NYC, and they seem to update Joy Division, mixing dark riffs and not untypical urban relationship themes. They played almost all the songs on their new record, Antics, which is very different from their first, Turn on the Bright Lights, in that nonironic romantics lyrics match a toned-down rock sound. That was all well and good, but I was inflamed when they played somgs from their first album.
The audio was fantastic at the venue. The lead guitar was crisp and the lead singer intent on making the lyrics decipherable, like at an audition. The band's focus seemed to be on making the sound good, and forget going out of one's way to entertain an audience. This was especially true when the band about 45 seconds into "Not Even Jail," a song which depends more on groove than singing. They retuned and started over, with a short apology: "Sorry, we can't play that song live."
The lead singer has a bit of Cobainian insouciance and palpable uninterest in you. He sang forcefully, finishing all the words, all the while seeming to stare at the back of the renovated warehouse. I loved the appearance of the bassist, who appears to have stepped out of a German version of the film Casablanca. The band wears suits, though the jackets came off as the heat upped. It is refreshing to see that young people still wear three-piece suits.
It cost $20 to get in, and I paid $6 for two rum and cokes. I spoke with some friends on my cell phone, attempting to not annoy other patrons, and then I spoke with someone in my German translation course. People are growing too tall these days. I could barely see the band, although I was actually not that far away.
All in all, it was money and time well spent. I loved the live version of the song, "Roland," a hard rocker about a sociopathic butcher who "severed segments secretly like that...he always took the time to speak with me; I liked him for that...he was growing on me." The feedback was altered and sounded much different than on the record, and the song built to a crescendo of dissonance and flashing lights. It felt like the place might explode with energy, a buildup.
So, Interpol is not to be missed.