Interpol at The Rave/Eagles Ballroom
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Interpol has come a long way since its much-loved 2002 debut Turn On The Bright Lights. Now the band is stuck in its “turn on the fog machine” phase—billowy clouds of misty atmosphere rapidly engulfed the stylish foursome as it strode on stage Friday at The Rave/Eagles Ballroom. Unfortunately, the flaccid opening song “Success” from the forthcoming Interpol just as quickly undermined the band’s stab at recovering its incredibly shrinking cool.
While Interpol appears to be a band in search of direction after appearing so razor-focused on its first few records, at least one recent change came off well: Touring bassist David Pajo of Slint (and countless other bands) ably filled in on bass for the recently departed Carlos Dengler. Pajo’s nastier tone cut in especially well during the sleazy stomp of “Rest My Chemistry” and the melancholy punch of “PDA,” as singer-guitarist Paul Banks led the way with his shaky baritone. Not that there weren’t some bumps in the transition: When Pajo’s clunkier style took on the detailed basslines of “Narc” it was the sonic equivalent to flattening pizza dough with a sledgehammer—there was little finesse, Dengler’s intricacy was missing, and the shit was all but annihilated.
For as often as Banks is compared to Joy Division’s Ian Curtis, stage presence definitely isn’t the singer’s strong suit. So, in an apparent attempt to compensate for the statue-like antics of his frontman, guitarist Daniel Kessler was constantly dancing across the stage, doing this ridiculous backwards pigeon-walk-into-spin-move shtick about once or twice per song, all while cranking out his jagged guitar lines. You can’t blame him for trying, but it was awkward.
Ultimately, Interpol fell back on its greatest strength, playing six songs from Bright Lights while only touching on a few tunes from 2004’s Antics, 2007’s forgettable Our Love To Admire, and the new album. From the gloomy dynamics of “Leif Erikson” to the drugged-up stagger of “NYC,” it was a nice reminder of why so many people fell in love with this band in the first place. Here’s hoping they’ll release another killer record with real dynamics someday.