Last Night: Interpol at Verizon Wireless Theater

Categories: Live Shots
Interpol
Verizon Wireless Theater
September 25, 2007

Better than: Sex. Or so I’ve heard.

Download: Something from 2004’s Antics, as it seemed to be the least-represented of Interpol’s three albums Tuesday.

It’s probably going to take another year before I learn all the song titles from Interpol’s Our Love to Admire, and it’s a shoo-in for a spot on my Top 10 this year. Maybe even top five. But in their case, titles don’t matter nearly as much as moods, and the mood the New York quartet (with a hired hand on keyboards) cast over the nearly sold-out Verizon Tuesday night was spellbinding.

Interpol’s music unfolds like a plush tapestry, enveloping the listener with Dan Kessler’s spidery guitar, as on Tuesday’s opener “Pioneer to the Falls.” Just when an unearthly calm descends, previously undetectable bassist Carlos D. and drummer Sam Fogarino lock into a hypnotic, sinister groove, and Interpol bare their teeth with an ear-stabbing number like Turn on the Bright Lights’ “Obstacle 1” or Antics’ “Narc.” Lit in lush shades of red, blue, purple and orange, the dark-suited band unspooled their downtown mating rituals with cold-blooded assurance, periodically letting the audience up for air only to submerge them even deeper immediately afterward.

Photos by Chris Gray
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Interpol may be the most overtly sexual white rock band working at the moment, especially one that sells in six figures. Most of their songs – even ones that aren’t obvious boudoir diaries like Admire’s “No I in Threesome” - are simply tarted-up R&B, with Kessler alternating single-note leads and off-beat chords, the rhythm section plugging straight into your hips and singer Paul Banks projecting a perfect blend of mystery and menace. Tuesday’s audience did more than their share, breaking into spontaneous handclaps several times. Most of the show was like being locked in an exclusive afterparty with a bunch of urbane, slightly creepy people who either want to have sex with you or dose your drink so they can harvest one of your kidneys; afterwards, you feel both sated and used.

Just about every song, from new single “Rest My Chemistry” to the barnstorming “Slow Hands” and Bright Lights’ “Obstacle 2” – which still reminds me of Bauhaus’ “Third Uncle” – felt intimate yet made for a much bigger room than the Verizon. That may well one day be the case. I hate to flog a horse that should have been turned into glue long ago, but if Interpol can virtually sell out the Verizon without any sort of radio support from certain local modern-rock stations, that ought to be all the evidence any ambitious would-be program director needs to start a station that plays something besides Seether and Stone Sour. Or maybe it just means that, finally, commercial radio is completely irrelevant. Fine by me.

Personal Bias: See “By the Way.”

Random Detail: As I was walking back into the theater after looking at the merch, this attractive girl with multiple facial piercings came up to me and asked, “Are you Mike?” I was not Mike, but sure wish I was.

By the Way: During “Rest My Chemistry,” I totally got booted from the show for using an “illegal flash,” and not the fun kind of “illegal flash.” It was pretty much the coolest thing that’s ever happened to me, but I still wish I’d gotten to see “PDA.” – Chris Gray

Click here for an interview with Carlos D, and here for a review of the band's latest CD.


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