Who would have thought a re-release party could be so much fun? Peter Wolf Crier, the duo of former Wars of 1812‘s frontman Peter Pisano and drummer Brian Moen, released their debut CD Inter-Be locally more than six months ago to considerable local acclaim. Nonetheless, that same CD being picked up by Jagjaguar records for international release on vinyl and CD May 25th is a pretty big deal for the band and their fans.
A line several dozen people deep was waiting for me in front of the Turf Club when I arrived shortly before openers Kill the Vultures took the stage at 10 p.m. Publicity from local radio and the print media (as well as significant general buzz) for the show had bought in a few fans evidently not steeped enough in local music to be familiar with the openers. Which was unfortunate. A few attendees told me they had dismissed the internationally-known indie hip hop group as “rap” and “not my style” and retired to the Clown Lounge for their set.
Too bad for them. Kill the Vultures put on a great show. Alexei Casselle (aka Crescent Moon) commented on the 3-4 foot no man’s land in front of the stage and engaged the crowd, which was shoulder to shoulder all the way to the back of the club, once dropping the mic entirely and performing without amplification for the lucky fans close enough to hear. (It didn’t quite quiet the chatty crowd, but it did make those paying attention lean in even closer and add another layer of intensity to the set.)
I won’t say much more about KTV as we quite recently reviewed the band’s Walker Art Center performance here. But I will reiterate that I’ve always found Alexi Casselle’s lyrics and delivery beautifully disturbing, and I think it’s important that an audience be made uneasy sometimes. KTV’s set was cut a little short, the band clearly eager to play at least one more song but getting a negatory shaking of the head from the sound man. (Set times had the entire show over by 12:05 a.m., which would seem to have left plenty of time for a few more songs. Instead the band left the stage looking a little disappointed about 10:50 p.m.)
The act of the night was Peter Wolf Crier, whom I’ve seen live only a handful of times in their relatively short history, but never from this close before, watching the show from a prime spot five feet away in the crowded club. Friday night the duo performed with a fervor akin to Pisano’s former band’s final show at the Cedar last year, one of the most intense local shows I saw in all of 2009. Together, Pisano and Moen with just guitar, drums, a few assorted pedals and their ethereal harmonies create an aural experience that is eerie, intimate and always rhythmically engaging. Peter Wolf Crier is already exhibiting the charisma of a national act (they played SXSW this past March) and I predict they will be very well received on their upcoming tour (with Fat Possum‘s Heartless Bastards, no less) coming up in June and July. (Check tour dates here.) Pisano remarked during an extended batch of thank you’s Friday night that he felt pretty comfortable up there (he looked it) and that his parents now probably think people react with adoration every time he climbs onto a stage (he’d better get used to it.)
The band played all 11 songs of the album in order, and I heard elements of Neil Young to the Grateful Dead (the latter, I recently learned Pisano is a big fan of after he now famously played an entire Grateful Dead show – Winterland, ’77 – as his “DJ set” at Kings Wine Bar this past Tuesday). When the band finally left the stage, people called out for “one more.” They came back for a single encore, launching into a taut and much-adapted version of Nick Drake‘s “Place to Be,” which laid bare the furious yearning on the inside of a song that in Drake’s hands always seemed fragile and delicate. It was just one of the highlights of what was already a nearly impeccably executed set.
See also, Jenn Barnett’s slideshow of photos from this show.