What: Peter Wolf Crier With Retribution Gospel Choir
Where: The Echo
We want to start by assuring you that Peter Wolf Crier are excellent. They turned in a fantastic 50ish minute performance and proved that doing 'nothing' is often more interesting that the most elaborate choreography. We want you to keep that fact in mind for the first few paragraphs, because it's going to pay off later. We promise. But before we get there, we have to talk about Retribution Gospel Choir, the band Peter Wolf Crier is currently touring with, and who shared the stage with them last night at the Echo.
Retribution Gospel Choir is fucking awful.
They're latest boring musical project of Alan Sparkawk, tedious lead singer of incredibly dull band Low, and they just might possibly have already turned in 2011's most redundant live show. From the tired, mid 90s musical droning, to the smart suits that don't quite make up for the lack anything resembling energy, to the fact that they're called Retribution Gospel Choir, there was nothing on display that wasn't a cliche.
Their set consisted of song after song – and we use the word 'song' loosely here, as they didn't seem to have anything particularly melodic – of trite lyrics (obfuscated by lazily vague imagery), set to seemingly endless iterations of boring stoner rock-meets boring Pearl Jam that differed from one another only in tempo. It was like walking into a dark room and finding your drunken uncle belting out acoustic covers of songs from Now That's What I Call Music #17. (Judge for yourself here.)
Yes, yes, we admit they have fans, who showed up in something resembling full force, and we're not hating on them. Far be it from us to suggest that enjoyment of such unremarkable music is a waste of someone's time. So if any of them reading this now cares to chime in and explain why you like them, we're all ears. Pending that explanation, we'll stick to our story. Their set sucked, forcing us as far from the stage as we could get, where we had the happy opportunity to spend a good deal of it commiserating with similarly traumatized attendees, there to see Peter Wolf Crier, wondering what the hell with the first band.
QOTD: “You ever notice how good bands don't do that weird side twitch thing?” said by this guy about Retribution Gospel Choir. And he's right. Alan Sparkawk seems to have perfected that tic.
Look, we're sure Alan is a perfectly nice person, so we almost feel a bit guilty hating his band with the fiery heat of 5,000 suns. Plus, more importantly, it was their name recognition that got the tour booked, and the fact that they're from Minnesota means that fellow Minnesotans Peter Wolf Crier were the beneficiaries of their decision to share the stage with some home town homies. So please accept our begrudging thanks, OK guys?
The semi-tragic thing about Peter Wolf Crier's performance last night is that despite the fact that they are objectively more interesting than their predecessors in every measurable way, the crowd nearly halved when Retribution Gospel Choir's inexplicably applauded set ended; here's how it looked by showtime:
This was great for us – we got an unfettered look at Peter Wolf Crier from multiple vantage points throughout the show – but it would have been nice to see a packed house. For what it's worth, those who did stay (or who came strictly to see them) got the socks knocked onto their asses. So to speak.
Peter Wolf Crier is Minnesota duo Peter Pisano and Brian Moen (Peter sings and plays various guitars while Brian drums and also bes awesome). They played a selection of songs from their debut album, Inter-be which, shockingly for the age of the ipod playlist, is really quite good throughout, but while it is definitely worth your money the album doesn't really capture their live show. They sit, politely, at their respective places upon the stage and basically, jam the fuck out in the way of all people who were obviously introduced to music playing in a High School marching band. Which is to say that they are the heterosexual life partner version of Mates of State. (We keed, we keed.)
They got off to a slightly late start (about 10:10 PM), and managed to milk their truncated set (the show had to end by 11 PM to make room for Club Underground) for everything it was worth. And how. By now we're all used to two-piece bands that manage to do better work than quintets, but it's the how of that as much as the fact of it. In Peter Wolf Crier's case, their excellent songs are backed up with a cannily arranged stage show. Peter Pisano plays 3 different guitars (two hollow bodies and one standard electric), and with the help of a sequenced loop multitracks himself with a thick echo added for good meaure. It adds atmosphere and heft that makes it feel like full band is throwing music at you, and we approve. He also sings with an appealingly tired voice that has decent range – he can really push it kind of high and keep it in key (even if it sounds like he's about to slip out of tune). It's hard to tell if it was deliberate, or maybe the by-product of a bad flu season, but if you think Geddy Lee with a cold, you're probably in the same area code.
As for Brian Moen, he drums like someone losing their virginity but trying not to look like it. In a good way.
Unfortunately, a band that sits does not provide a lot of primo photo ops, but had they moved more, this is what they'd have looked like.
It was unfortunate that such a great performance had to be preceded by such dim mediocrity, but we're glad we stuck around. Definitely worth it. It definitely was not worth it, however, to hang around the Echo after the end of the show. Club Underground is a ton of fun, but we were starving, so it was off the Cha Cha, and to the Taco Truck parked in front of it, for a late night meal.
Mission accomplished! And now, bedtime.