Published Oct 15, 2011The last time Spencer Krug appeared in Vancouver, he rocked the spacious Commodore Ballroom as a member of the beloved Wolf Parade. Performing under his solo moniker Moonface, however, the Montreal-based songwriter downsized to the far more intimate Waldorf Hotel. And although the room was small, it was buzzing with excitement by the time he arrived on stage, brushing tangles of shoulder-length hair away from his eyes.
Taking his place behind a bulky wood organ, he launched into "Whale Song (Song Instead of a Kiss)" from the recently released Organ Music Not Vibraphone Like I'd Hoped. The organ was piled high with loop pedals, effects units and a glowing globe, which sat alongside a small synth. This produced a biting, distorted tone whenever Krug's left hand darted to it during the set's many psych-infused instrumental passages.
He was accompanied throughout by touring percussionist Mike Bigelow, whose arms moved furiously in all directions as he hammered away on an assortment of drum pads, a cymbal and large digital marimba. The pair tore through the droning album cuts "Return to the Violence of the Ocean Floor" and "Fast Peter" while projected flames flickered eerily on the dimly lit stage. The energy was electric, and Krug was drenched in sweat as the pair conjured up tightly interlocked grooves that built to pulse-racing, shamanistic crescendos.
The rhythms were too angular to dance to, so most onlookers contented themselves with crossing their arms and nodding their heads appreciatively. Several fans gave cheers of recognition when Krug delved into his back catalogue for "All Fires" from his dormant collaborative project Swan Lake. He introduced this tune as a "cover," even though he wrote it himself, and then reinvented it completely with jagged stabs of organ, brittle beats and a peculiar start-stop structure. With so many moments of brilliance packed into seven epic songs, Krug proved that playing smaller venues does nothing but help his boundary-pushing creativity.