[8 September 2011]
To even the most seasoned of show attendees, there is still something undeniable about seeing a band’s heartfelt sincerity come out through their performance and in the way they interact with the audience. While this is not to say that only select groups are capable of giving it their all onstage, the kind of energy and exuberance that beamed from the faces of Dan Boeckner (formerly of Wolf Parade) and wife Alexei Perry was nothing short of contagious. The way the couple, who play under the Handsome Furs moniker, fed off the audience’s energy and incorporated it into their set at the Mohawk entered their performance into that elite category of memorable shows. Rather than simply witnessing a band play their music, amHandsome Furs performance makes one feel as though he is an integral part of the euphoria the duo experienced playing onstage.
The positive energy started circulating immediately as Boeckner and Perry came to the stage to tune their instruments. The crowd began cheering before a single note was played, and one could tell from the reaction on Boeckner’s face that it was going to be a good night. “When I Get Back”, off the band’s excellent new record Sound Kapital, set the pace for the rest of night. Perry’s pulsating beats and slick synth work combined with Boeckner’s squalling guitars and trademark croon to create a wall of sound that perfectly suited the kind of effect they were going for. There were little to no sound issues, and everything sounded tight and well-rehearsed. The set consisted solely of tracks from Sound Kapital and 2009’s Face Control, meaning that 2007’s Plague Park was not represented. However, that did not stop fans from singing along to every word of songs like “Radio Kaliningrad”, “Memories of the Future”, and perennial favorite “All We Want, Baby, Is Everything”.
While the show would have been a success based on the quality of the music alone, it was the duo’s unbridled enthusiasm that put their performance over the top. Throughout the show, they reiterated how lucky they felt to be playing in front of such a receptive and enthusiastic crowd. “We get to do this for a living,” Perry said, “and tonight is one of those nights that make us so happy to be doing what we do.” Fired up by the appreciation they were feeling, Boeckner and Perry returned the favor through both the way they played and their onstage personas. Perry would sway back and forth and in sync with Boeckner, extending her arms and pulling them back in dramatic fashion. On several occasions, she lifted her right leg in the air as though she were doing ballet tricks, something you don’t usually see from a woman standing behind a synth. While a little less acrobatic, Boeckner would lean in close towards his wife in a loving sort of way, and he descended into the crowd and got the first several rows jumping while he helmed the mic during “What About Us”. The band even played “Cheap Music”, a cut off their new album that Boeckner said they rarely play on tour, as a sort of thanks to the crowd for being so supportive.
Their Mohawk performance was actually Handsome Furs first show in Austin outside of SXSW, and Boeckner said that this particular night would forever ruin the festival for him. As if that weren’t praise enough, he took a minute after encore opener “Legal Tender” to give a sincere thanks to the crowd for coming out to see them despite the sweltering heat that had plagued the city all week. It was a very humble moment from one of indie’s most singular figures, and one that managed to encapsulate the reason why their performance was a heartfelt affair that made for a special moment in time.