Voices at odds

2000’s indie rock all-stars Wolf Parade make their way to Tacoma

By Rev. Adam McKinney on February 21, 2019

The indie rock boom of the early-to-mid ‘00s were a wild time. No one was quite sure just where the wind was blowing, in terms of stylistic trends and general demeanor. The garage rock revival was in full swing, LCD Soundsystem was digging through crates of ‘70s vinyl obscurities, Arcade Fire was going straight for the heart with symphonic catharsis, scores of bands were starting up the nostalgic bend towards ‘80s New Wave. The internet had not only provided a massive increase in accessibility -- meaning that aspiring musicians were able to be influenced by a greater variety of acts, from all decades, than ever before -- but a greater ability to support unsigned artists (Clap Your Hands Say Yeah being a watershed moment, becoming the talk of the indie town via their self-released debut).

In the middle of all of this hullabaloo, Wolf Parade emerged from the bustling cultural hub of Montreal. Their 2005 debut, Apologies to the Queen Mary, was critically acclaimed, and the narrative immediately began to form of Wolf Parade founders Spencer Krug and Dan Boeckner as a sort of Lennon-McCartney team. Krug and Boeckner traded time as lead singers and songwriters for the band, with each offering their own distinct sound to the band. While both gave off a nervy vibe, Krug tended towards sprawling prog-rock, and Boeckner preferred more immediate guitar-rock. Each of them exclusively wrote for the song they were singing, with the first exception, tellingly, being on the chaotic "Kissing the Beehive," the closer on their sophomore album. The perception, whether warranted or not, became that Wolf Parade was a band made up of two distinct artistic voices at odds with each other.

After their 2010 album Expo ‘86, Wolf Parade parted ways. Knowing anything about the restlessness that comes with leaving a good thing behind, it should come as no surprise that Krug and Boeckner would come back together to release Wolf Parade's fourth LP, Cry Cry Cry, in 2017. Also unsurprisingly, the dynamic has not changed: the songwriting credits are almost evenly divided, with Krug and his experimental arrangements (and signature warbling voice) doing battle with Boeckner's rousing power pop (and signature adenoidal voice), and the result being a very enjoyable journey through two artists' minds. In this way, Wolf Parade represents something of a rarity in this day and age, with two clear authorial voices offering each other equal time in the name of making great music.

WOLF PARADE, w/ Acid Tongue, 8 p.m., Thursday, Feb. 28, Fawcett Hall at Alma Mater, 1322 Fawcett Ave., Tacoma, $22, 253.302.3926, almamatertacoma.com


Friday in Olympia finds the awesomely named Bear Axe coming to Rhythm and Rye. If I gave you a hundred guesses about what Bear Axe sounds like, I doubt that you would come up with the correct answer, which is actually pretty hard to explain. Led by the ferocious vocals of Shaina Shepherd, Bear Axe finds its footing in blues-rock and soul, but peppers in elements of punk, prog-rock, grunge, and metal. Besides Shepherd's wild, exhilarating lead performance, nothing much anchors Bear Axe to any particular sound. On the 2018 Last Call EP, Bear Axe's main concerns seem to be to either get the party started, or to burn every one of their detractors to the ground. This is gritty rock that gets into your veins and inspires you to dance like a lunatic -- whether that means head-banging, pogoing, or getting real close to someone special depends on what mode Bear Axe are operating in. In any case, this music will get you wired.

BEAR AXE, w/ C Average, 9 p.m., Friday, Feb. 22, Rhythm and Rye, 311 Capitol Way N., Olympia, $5, 360.705.0760