with Q and Not U
Orlando, FL • March 20, 2005
The guys of Interpol are probably the best dressed men in rock ‘n’ roll today. They’ve got four very different looks that come together like a well-balanced meal. If you want to break it down into stereotypes you’ve got the doe-eyed shy and moody British-type (Paul Banks), the sleek Creepy Thin Man mysterious goth-type (Carlos D), the dark and dangerous punk (Sam Fogarino), and the suave and attractive intellectual (Daniel Kessler). They’re so focused on looking good, however, that they seem to have forgotten that as a touring band you have to also entertain the audience. Their trip to Orlando had no difficult selling-out the House of Blues, but their set seemed uninspired.Openers Q and Not U seemed to confuse one half of the crowd, and impress the other. Coming from a very different school of music than the dark wave mood of Interpol, the trio from Washington, D.C. seem to be redefining the Dischord sound. Their collision of rock-disco-indie-soul-dance music is pretty far from the hardcore sounds Ian MacKaye founded the Dischord label on years ago. If you came expecting Q and Not U to sound like Minor Threat or Fugazi, you were sadly disappointed.
Lead singer Chris Richards looks like actor Phillip Seymour Hoffman (Twister, Almost Famous, Boogie Nights etc…) and dances like Jack Black. That alone kept me entertained! Switching between guitar, bass, and keyboards — at times within the same song — and still he found time to sing. Not to be outdone, keyboardist Harris Klahr also donned a guitar, sang, and joined John Davis on the drums at one point. Promoting their latest release, Power, the band’s 45 minute set was a promising start to the night.
Interpol stepped onto the darkened stage, and opened the show with “Next Exit,” bathed only in blue light. With each band member surrounded by their own cloud of cool, they drove their way into an uninterrupted set of music equally shared between their first and most recent releases, never pausing to so much as smile or say “hello” to the fans. Highlights included “NYC,” “Say Hello to the Angels,” and “Evil.” Each song was performed in dark lighting which adds ambience to the hypnotic nature of the Joy Division-inspired music, but makes it difficult to see the band. This seems to be intentional.Paul Banks seems either insecure or arrogant, hiding his face behind his the microphone more than Julian Casablancas (The Strokes) does. And that is the only Strokes reference I’m going to make for this New York City band because let me just point out that when The Strokes played to a sold-out House Of Blues almost a year ago to the day, they brought the house down. Not only did they seem to actually be enjoying themselves, but Casablancas scaled the speakers hoisting himself onto the rafters supporting the second floor balcony and performed their hit song of the moment while working his way around the balcony and down the other side. Now that’s putting on a show!
The most fascinating aspect of Interpol’s performance was the fashion. Don’t get me wrong — they sounded fantastic! The guys have been touring virtually nonstop since their inception in 1998 and it shows in the tightness of their sound, but if I want perfection I can listen to the album. I go to a show to see the band and experience part of their personalities. For this performance, I found no personalities — just fashion.Before the encores, I left to make it to the after-party at The Social which was to feature DJ Carlos D. A couple hundred concert goers crammed their way into the small club to wait for the enigmatic bass player (and hopefully the whole band) to show up. At 1am, when most of the crowd was starting to impatiently look at their watches, he snuck in. With no announcement, he got up in a dark corner near the entrance and started spinning. Signing autographs and chatting with fans in between cigarettes and record changes, he seemed slightly more lively than while onstage, though he still seemed afraid to let anyone see him smile. Maybe it’s part of the act — maybe he’s just so absorbed with looking “cool” that he’s afraid to break the spell. I hope he (and the band) are at least enjoying themselves internally because if not — then what’s the point in any of it, really?