Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Handsome Furs Mildly Enjoy This City

No, Dan Boeckner does not have multiple faces. It's just a crappy action shot taken with my phone.

Going into last night's Handsome Furs show at Mojo's, I did not really know what to expect. It was a Tuesday, St. Paddy's Day, and right in the middle of SXSW. The turnout was predictably low as young professionals opted to stay in on what may be our best evening of the spring so far. Plus, I was about to hear a two-piece band consisting of guitar, synth, and drum machine. It could have gone terribly wrong either way.

I had a pre-show beer at the 'Tag, a Coney Island Sword Swallower. It's a really good lager, hopped so much you may confuse it for a pale ale. Actually, the sad part of the beer is that I feel like I swallowed a sword as the morning-after hop breath has set in. It's still a good beer. I suggest head over to the 'Tag and have one before the keg is empty.

After unsuccessfully trying to talk some of those aforementioned young professionals to join me at the show, I ventured over to Mojo's all by my lonesome.

First off, let me say that Dan Boeckner and Alexi Perry are as handsome a couple as you might expect. Sure, they're not classically beautiful or attractive enough to be Real World cast members. No, their beauty is a rock n' roll beauty, an attractiveness that comes more from the gut than the face. They are rock 'n roll hot, way more compelling than the average model/actor. Maybe it was the sparsely equipped stage, but I was mesmerized by the couple/band's presence.

The Furs' style can be described as "post-Perestroika punk". There are a lot of kids in Brooklyn dressing this way nowadays, but Boeckner and Perry pull it off genuinely. This was no fashion show disguised as a concert. The Handsome Furs gave off the impression that they go to the bank in the same clothes they wear on stage.

There is no pretension here. The band was so appreciative of the crowd that did show and were friendly to the Vox reporters directly after the show. The club wasn't even half-full, but the Canadian couple kept thanking folks for the wonderful turnout.

Oh, and there was music.

Whenever I see a synth-heavy act, I shutter and worry that I will become bored watching "musicians" turn knobs and push buttons. A synth band is often just a step above the laptop-wielding set. If you recall, I hated - HATED - the Fuck Buttons with their card tables and MacBooks and Fisher Price tape recorders. There is something soulless about simply pushing buttons to make dance music.

The Handsome Furs figured out how to make the synth thing work. Besides the fact that they are compelling individuals, the Furs actually play their instruments and rock as they do it. I know this seems like a simple distinction, but it's really not. I go to shows to see and hear rock 'n roll, not to watch you play with GarageBand.

So, my point is that the music translated well to a live setting. Boeckner's voice and anthemic guitar playing fulfilled my yernings to rock, but he shared the stage with his partner. Perry rhythmically beat on synth and drum machines as if they weren't working. Together, the band played a show that deserved a larger crowd than COMO provided.

Last night marked the 16th anniversary of my first concert. I was as thrilled to be at a rock show in 2009 as I was in 1993. That's not an easy task for me as I keep going back to rock clubs in search of that first high, but Handsome Furs gave me a little bit of the thrill once again.


Scroll through my Tweets for the real-time story.

Some of the bathysphere kids were there. I'm sure they'll post something.


The Vox folks will get to writing something up eventually.


Zach said...

Dan Boeckner is an amazing musician... I had every intention of going to this, but a negative bank account balance and a three hour drive kept me away.

There's Wolf Parade, of course, but if you're yearning for more Dan-centric stuff, you should really check out Atlas Strategic, his band prior. The two albums they released make me want to jumpkick through some drywall from rocking out.

comoprozac said...

Sweet. Good to know. Except for the 3-hour drive, I would have sponsored your admission. It could be like a paid-internship or something...except that you probably know more than me. I'm just older.