Interpol

Interpol at House of Vans Brooklyn, August 24, 2018,

Sep 17, 2018 Web Exclusive
Bookmark and Share


As I approached the House of Vans, my eyes were met with what had become a familiar neighborhood scene in Greenpoint, Brooklyn over the past eight years-hordes of young, fashionable New Yorkers assembled outside the doors of 25 Franklin Street in long queues that winded and wrapped around the block in serpentine like fashion. But tonight would be the last time. It was the final House of Vans show and Interpol was there to send it off in style... in theory, at least.

The night had all the makings to be one for the books, and it wasn't really about the venue-the Chicago and London locations will live on, by the way. That aspect may have added an underlying layer of urgency or exclusivity, but for someone who didn't have any particular connection or romantic association with the place, I also didn't have any real feelings, good or ill, about its closure. For myself, and I assume the majority of attendees in their 30s, the evening's potential to be one of those unforgettable shows that stands out of from countless others we've attended, lay almost entirely in the nostalgic nature of Interpol's first two albums (2002's Turn On the Bright Lights and 2004's Antics). 

I was 19 when Turn On the Bright Lights was released and I couldn't get anything even loosely associated with NYC's rock 'n' roll renaissance of the early aughts into my Midwestern head quickly enough. Interpol are forever associated with a particular time and place in my life, one where the Midwest felt smaller than it ever had before and the Lower East Side beckoned like a grimy utopia of rock 'n' roll cool-all seedy dives and pretty girls in leather jackets looking for someone to light their cigarettes. At least that's how I imagined it. I wouldn't actually set foot in the city for another three years. My desire to live in New York was almost entirely based on what I saw in movies, and obsessively listening to The Velvet Underground and Ramones. So when The Strokes and bands like Yeah Yeah Yeahs and The Walkmen hit, I was on board immediately. It was the first time I was hearing bands of my time, roughly my same age, making music-if only from an aesthetic perspective in some cases-that made me feel the same way the records I was listening to from the '60s and '70s did. It had swagger and style and always sounded best at night, long past when you should've called it a night and headed home from the bar.

Interpol didn't necessarily knock me out in the way some of the other aforementioned groups did, but they were an integral part of what those bands came to represent. It's hard argue that they weren't every bit the poster children of a cool New York band that The Strokes were, even though I was always drawn more to the latter. I still listened to the hell out of Turn On the Bright Lights and spent enough memorable time with Antics that they remain vividly connected to a particular time and place in my life. And as a person that seeks out and soaks up the nostalgia like a drug, I was more than ready to indulge my inner denim-clad, chain smoking 19-year-old self for a few hours in the dog days of summer.

And now for the buzz kill. It just didn't turn out the way I was all but certain it would. Why? It's hard to say, but it was likely was a combination of expectations set too high, too many years gone by since I listened to or really thought about the band, and a decidedly palpable feeling of disconnect with the crowd I found myself in-couples too well groomed for a rock show, nerdy music journalists debating the quality of the oeuvre of Modest Mouse, and a sizeable percentage of folks that seemed, at least from my perspective, to be there for reasons rooted more in the ideas of it being at an event, or at least at a place to be, than any particular affection or interest in its headlining act.

After checking in at the media desk, I procured myself a vodka and soda and milled around the venue, observing the crowd. Oddly enough everyone seemed almost eager to recreate their experience prior to entering the venue-taking their place in a mishmash of lines that had quickly amalgamated into some kind of dense maze difficult to navigate for those of us merely looking to find a couple of square feet to smoke, take a deep breath, and internally confirm that, yes, we still don't handle crowds or lines very well.

I managed to fight my way through the masses and staked my claim directly to left of a about a baker's dozen worth of port-a-johns. Leaning against a metal barricade, I indulged the nicotine-crazed monkey on my back and contemplated my next move. Plan in place, I weaved my way back in inside to watch a solid set from locals Honduras and then began my mission of finding a way to get my girl into the show. She's a fan and was unable to get tickets, which had let me to presumptuously declare I would get her in, no matter what. To be honest, I don't think she cared one way or the other, but we hadn't been dating very long and I was looking for any way possible to impress her. I figured if I was honest and genuine about the reason for needing an extra ticket, it would be impossible to turn me down and I'd be texting her to get in a cab in no time. I was wrong.

I approached PR people at the check in desk, a merch girl, security guards, and more than one bartender. With varying degrees of empathy, or complete lack there of, everyone replied with different versions of the same steadfast response: "No." It wasn't looking good. I put the project on hold while I watched Gang Gang Dance turn in a bizarrely beautiful performance, which helped take my mind of what was looking like a surefire failure in the impress the girl department. Interpol would be on soon and I had run out of options.

With 30 minutes to kill, I went to get another drink and found some space to text her that it wasn't in the cards tonight. Then I saw a woman working the media desk who I didn't recognize from any of my earlier interactions One more shot. Prepared for another rejection, but I explained the situation and before I could finish asking if she could help me out, she smiled and said, "This is only because I like you," and handed me a ticket. Success. I thanked her profusely and then called the girl and told her to get here immediately. Five minutes after she arrived, the lights dimmed and Interpol walked out on stage.

The place was packed and the band looked and sounded great, but it was hard not to notice an almost eerie lack of excitement from both band and audience. I may be projecting and quite possible unable to see it through any other perspective but my own, but I've talked to several people in attendance since and they've all described feeling similarly unsatisfied. Songs like "PDA," "NYC," and "Evil" picked things up a bit, but even those came off weirdly tepid. Needless to say that tracks from the band's latest album Marauder-this was also an official record release show, by the way-went all but entirely unnoticed by most in attendance save for a small contingent of diehards. Performed expertly and sonically satisfying in a general way, but again, a dearth of whatever that amorphous element is that permeates truly great rock 'n' roll shows.

I want to make it clear that I think Interpol are a really good band, and have made what I consider to be a couple of great records. It wasn't as if it felt like some kind of chore to see them perform, but I would be lying if I told you I hadn't been ready to leave four songs before they ended. Exiting the venue, we both tried to get excited and rehash the highlights, but neither of us could do so convincingly. We didn't hate it, we didn't love it, we didn't really "anything" it. I just kept thinking about how hard it was going to be to write about something that left no real impact-bad or good. I can't imagine confronting that same worry if I had just seen The Strokes or Yeah Yeahs Yeahs. But obviously I have been wrong before.

All I know is that the most exciting part of a show shouldn't have zero to do with the band you are seeing. Or maybe it should? It felt pretty damn good to hand her that ticket.  

www.interpolnyc.com

www.vans.com/house-of-vans.html

Support Under the Radar on Patreon.




Comments

Submit your comment

Name Required

Email Required, will not be published

URL

Remember my personal information
Notify me of follow-up comments?

Please enter the word you see in the image below:

Csquare
September 17th 2018
3:06pm

This is nonsensical at best, unfair at worst. I was at the same show, and I’d like to point out that you’re partly faulting a band for playing an industry-facing performance. A music reporter, of all people, should know that industry shows are the worst. Almost everyone in the venue was guest listed media people, which is totally on House of Vans. Had you packed that room full of Interpol fans, you probably would have had a different experience.

That all said, maybe you were in the wrong part of the room, because from where I was standing, they were great. Everyone was super into the new songs, particularly the Rover. Their old stuff is obviously classic and slotted in well with the new material. Everyone around me knew every word from Bright Lights through El Pintor. The group standing next to me was screaming for more songs. We had a very, very different experience from you.

The comparison to the Strokes and Yeahs is a bit odd and doesn’t accomplish what I think you’re attempting, because you’re comparing one single industry show you happened to attend to 2 bands’ entire history of performances. Implying that you would never leave a show played by a band feeling like it wasn’t AMAZING and INCREDIBLE doesn’t make any sense. I can tell you that I have for sure been to sub-par Strokes shows where they were just phoning it in.

Christopher
September 18th 2018
5:48am

This isn’t a objective review of a show at all.  Biased.  Poor journalism, imo.

Sketch Crack
October 1st 2018
12:35am

Nice website and spreading pretty contents.
Resharper Activation Key
WinThruster Crack