Last night's Frog Eyes/Sunset Rubdown show at Schubas was incredible. The venue was full, but not sold out, for Sunset Rubdown's set; the show kicked off when Spencer got behind his keyboard and said, "This song is a Wolf Parade song, but before that it was a Sunset Rubdown song" and proceeded to play a stripped down version of "I'll Believe in Anything," just him and the keyboards, while I proceeded to drop my jaw in disbelief and amazement and possibly wet myself; I was totally unprepared for something that f***ing AWESOME. I still can't believe he started out the show with the original version of Wolf Parade's best and biggest song. The song quickly bled into "Snakes Got a Leg" as the rest of the band joined in (made up of a drummer and a guitarist who switched on and off between songs and a cool-looking female who added additional sound effects, bells and backing vocals) and the next 45 minutes of music were pretty unreal. Spencer put on much of the same humble, passionate, super-intense performance behind his keyboards that I loved when I saw Wolf Parade, eventually picking up this ratty looking mini-accordian held together by duct tape for the epic "The Men Are Called Horsemen There," which made for a great visual spectacle. They also played a brand new song that was possibly, dare I say it, better than anything I've heard of theirs yet! I noticed that they are now playing some Pitchfork festival pre-party at the Metro July 28, and I feel sorry for anyone who did not catch on to this band before last night, because the Metro just can not provide the intimacy of Schubas that I feel like watching this band requires.
After Sunset Rubdown's set, the ongoing trend of recent Pitchfork Best New Music picks overshadowing the headliners they tour with continued as the crowd shrank substantially. Which is really too bad for those people who left, because if they knew better, they'd realize that Frog Eyes and Sunset Rubdown are very similar bands who actually share members, and Frog Eyes put on a hilarious and equally intense performance, somewhat fueled by singer Casey Mercer's self-deprecating angst that spilled forth between each song. First of all, nothing about Casey screams "rock star." He looks like Philip Seymour Hoffman- more specifically, the creepy, Lara Flynn Boyle-stalking Hoffman of Todd Solondz's Happiness, because Casey is creepy, let me tell you. When he's yelping and howling during his bizarre and exciting songs, his bright red face scrunches up and his whole body seems to tremble as he's pounding away at his guitar. When the song was over, he'd either regale us of some ridiculous tale that made no sense or poke some serious fun of himself ("You're old and no one wants to see you play!") or Spencer ("Why don't you go back to Wolf Parade!"), but he'd do it in this really high-pitched, evil whisper. Meanwhile, his band seemed to sort of look around nervously in the background, as if they weren't used to seeing this behavior on a daily basis.
But when it came down to it, beyond all the theatrics, Frog Eyes' sounded really great, and the brand new song they ended with was weird and ambitious and fantastic, giving me high expectations for their next album. They eschewed the encore (!!!) and instead just took a dramatic bow before leaving the stage.
Best show I've seen so far this year.
I'll upload my pictures from the show this weekend, which should turn out pretty well considering I was right up at the stage.