Friday Night: Interpol At Verizon Wireless Theater

Interpol Nov1 a.JPG
Photos by Groovehouse
Verizon Wireless Theater
October 29, 2010

Interpol should not have been at Verizon Friday night. Not by any traditional yardstick.

A decade or so after their first release, the Fukd ID #3 EP, Interpol is a genuine anomaly. In an age when image is everything in pop music - and all too often the only thing - the New York band projects an anti-image: Three not especially photogenic guys in dark suits. Nice, designer suits, but still. The closest thing Interpol had to a fashion plate, bassist Carlos D., left earlier this year to work on "personal projects."

That leaves the music, which on the surface seems as chilly and monochromatic as Interpol's photo shoots. Intimidating and predatory, even, and absolute anathema to mainstream modern-rock radio (in Houston, anyway) for its mixture of hipster jive and artsy, tortured introspection. Lyrics like "stabbing yourself in the neck" can yield some interesting Google results.

Interpol Nov1 b.JPG
And yet there they were, onstage at Verizon in front of a crowd that - although it did not look, feel or seem like it - was actually larger than its counterpart at Ghostland Observatory's costume-clad club-beat riot a mile or so down Texas Avenue at Warehouse Live. So what gives?

The music, that's what. Sometimes it really is that simple, and live, Interpol is simplicity itself. Those songs that seem so frozen in place at first become magnetic and hypnotic, womblike cascades of guitar propelled by ex-Slint four-stringer David Pajo's bass and contained by Sam Fogarino's metronomic drumming.

And front man Paul Banks, whose rich baritone was like a lighthouse in the seas of dark blue and red Friday, is no tortured artist - he's a closet romantic. When he sang "you are the only person who's completely certain there's nothing here to be into" on the driving "PDA," it wasn't a brush-off, it was a bond between him and the audience (the ladies especially).

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