December 24, 2002

The Human Jungle

[Interpol Set List - Dec 20]

My weekend entertainment was provided by the two back-to-back Interpol shows I attended Friday and Saturday. As great as those were, I'm going to save up most of my comments about Interpol's increasingly accomplished live performance for my review of their upcoming show at Maxwell's.

What can I say? That I was lucky to snag great spots each night -- Friday front-and-center on the balcony, Saturday front-and-mostly-center a couple of feet from the stage. That both nights they played a new song ("Length of Love"), which is a complete winner. That both nights I was able to peek at the set list while the show was happening, which was neat even if it did remove the element of surprise.

The first couple hours of Friday night's event were spent counting the minutes through the two opening acts, who my friends and I did not like at all. So we amused ourselves by trading jibes about each band and general shit-talking. ("Hey, I didn't realize this was a Doors concert." "At least it only takes this band three people instead of five to bore me to death.") We were cranky about having to stand in the same goddamn spot, because, as we found when two of us tried to go to the bar together, this crowd was a flock of fucking vultures. The friend who was trying to hold our spot nearly had a confrontation with some dude who didn't seem to understand (or care about) the concept of reserving some space for people who were returning in, like, five minutes.

As for the band we were in fact there to see, Friday night's show impressed my friends enough to convert them from casual to committed fans. Now I know where another one of my Maxwell's tickets is going...

On Saturday night the club was just as packed (another sellout, of course). I missed the first opening act, but slipped to the front of the stage in time for The Stills, whose were surprisingly good. I'm still a bit spooked by the lead singer's pitch-perfect Shayne Carter (Straitjacket Fits) impression, but the band struck just the right tone. Unlike the previous night's openers, The Stills' music induced some actual crowd movement, and their moody-yet-agressive r'n'r was just what we were looking for. A few songs seemed to borrow riffs from each other -- and the second song they played featured an exact copy of the bassline from PiL's "This Is Not A Love Song" (stop, thief! but damn, it sounded good). Even so, I was interested enough to want to hear more. Record, please!

As the night wore on, and as we were all pressed closer together by the influx of people, I chatted with others around me, including Audrey, who I was pleased to finally meet. Also talked to a couple of women who'd traveled all the way from middle Connecticut who'd been at the two Boston shows I'd attended earlier this year. After comparing notes about Interpol, one of them asked me about other kinds of music I liked:

Me: Post-punk is probably my favorite.

Her: <confused look>

Me: Music after the original first wave of punk. Artier, maybe a bit more melodic.

Her: Oh, you mean more melodic like Green Day and Rancid?

Me: Uh, more like those bands' influences.

Yeah, it was a pretty young crowd.

They're never speedy about getting onstage, but it took one-and-a-half spins of the latest Spoon album (the new favorite of club sound guys everywhere?) for Interpol to take the stage. Paul thanked us for waiting, then the band launched into their trademark opener, "Untitled." (Funny how earlier working title "Intro" is still used on the set lists, though.) Another little bit that's clearly become an established routine is near the end of "PDA," where all the instruments drop out save Daniel's strumming... Paul and Sam's cue to both light up cigs.

And The Stills weren't the only ones copping parts, as my ears zoomed in near the end of the "The Specialist," when Carlos pops out that little bass riff straight outta "Planet Earth." Yes, there's a lot of Duran Duran in there! But I suppose it's cooler for people to harp on the Joy Division thing instead. And while I'm on my soapbox, I'd like to point out that these guys (or whoever creates their set lists, at least) do have a sense of humor, contrary to their po-faced rep. That's "I loooooooooooooooove you" in parentheses next to "Stella" in the Friday set list. And on Saturday's list the same song was printed as "(ghostface)Smella" -- a shout-out to the Wu-Tang? (!)

While I was able to refer to the set list throughout each show, the Saturday one didn't include the encore. So when Paul introduced the first song of the encore with, "This one's an oldie but goodie," I was expecting "Song Seven"... but we got "Precipitate." Cool -- they don't really play that one anymore; I'd only seen them play it once, back in June. Then the usual closer, and crowd-pleaser: "Obstacle 2."

I very much doubt I'll be attending any other gigs in the past week, so this likely ends my year 2002 show-going. Nice to have capped it with Interpol, who I've definitely seen most this year, a grand total of six times. Maybe I'll tally up the number of shows I've attended in 2002, just for the heck of it. Should be fun. As long as I don't contemplate the amount of money spent on tickets, drinks and taxis!

Posted by nstop at December 24, 2002 08:38 AM


I seriously hope "At least it only takes this band three people instead of five to bore me to death" was not in reference to the Prosaics. they're amazing!

Posted by: Peter on December 25, 2002 05:29 PM

Nah, that comment was in reference to Calla. They did get a little better as they went on, but the first couple of songs were zzzzzz.

Did the Prosaics open on Thursday night? Because I didn't go to that show.

Posted by: Jen on December 25, 2002 06:59 PM

Funny, I had the same reaction seeing Calla. I thought they were awful, but they got progressively less awful throughout the set.

I remember liking the Prosaics when I saw them.

Posted by: Jody on December 25, 2002 07:58 PM

Good to hear that their live performance was worthwhile. I will be seeing them in Minneapolis in two short weeks. Post-punk and Green Day, hehe!!! After so many Joy Division comparisons, though, I posted a longwinded blog about how their musical styles are not really that similar.

Posted by: sabo on December 29, 2002 10:04 PM

Question about the Interpol shows. What do they have for sale music-wise at their shows? I'm going to see them in January and I'm just wondering if I'll be able to pick up any of their earlier EP's and/or current 7's at the gig. Thanks :)

Posted by: jon on December 30, 2002 02:05 PM

Is it just me, or does Interpol sound more like The Chameleons (UK) than anyone else?

Posted by: Andy on December 30, 2002 06:03 PM

Funny, Martin said the same thing about Interpol sounding like The Chameleons -- see here.

As for Interpol merch, all they had were copies of the album, plus t-shirts and badges. They don't even have the cool red shirts anymore, just the black ones.

Posted by: nstop on December 31, 2002 12:16 AM

Thanks for the info. Can't wait for the show! Maybe I can get a set list of my own.

Posted by: jon on December 31, 2002 09:47 AM


I really like your site but I do disagree with that Doors reference. I assume that was said because they had a wurlitzer (Which I can only think of one Doors song off the top of my head with that instrument). Their songs sounded nothing like the Doors on so many ways. I particularly liked the tape loops which I haven't seen since Mission of Burma (the world has since decided to cheat with samplers). I listened to their mp3s on and I think they are on to something. I heard the Fall, VU, and even Kraftwerk in their songs but with their own twist. I don't know... I'm bored and rambling right now. I just wanted to say that I think that the Occasion should be more appreciated for what I think they are trying to do. I believe that task would be to bring back a certain quality to music I find lacking nowadays. And ummm... Interpol are awesome too!!!

Posted by: jay on January 1, 2003 12:26 PM

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