Turn off the bright lights

Courtesy Of Rosemary Milich

There are those performers who, when you see them live, sound nothing like their recorded selves—the result of which can be devastating for fans, who are left feeling disappointed and betrayed. (Damn you, Cyndi Lauper!) Then there are the bands that sound exactly as if they were plucked from the record and placed onstage. They deliver exactly what their listeners have come to know and love. Although, in many cases, this can make for a positive concert-going experience, it also can lead to a mighty dull show—especially when the band appears merely to be going through the motions.

It is with a heavy heart that I must report that the recent Interpol show, at UC Davis’ Freeborn Hall last Wednesday, was a classic case of the latter. While the New York City-based musicians sounded flawless (with a few insignificant exceptions), they still managed to deliver a lackluster performance. And who can blame them? They’ve been touring in support of Antics, their sophomore album, since it was released in September 2004.

Songs like “NYC,” from their debut album, Turn on the Bright Lights, and “Public Pervert” felt as if they were performed out of obligation and, as a result, were unable to inspire little more than a subtle head-bopping from the audience. Even more danceable tracks like “Slow Hands” and “PDA” inspired minimal movement. Concert-goers, I’m disappointed in you!

Still, I can’t blame the crowd entirely. After all, how is the audience supposed to muster up any enthusiasm when the band can’t even manage to feign it? It’s like the age-old question: Which came first, the chicken or the egg? The unenthused performers or the uninspired audience?

At any rate, I hate to sound so negative, and the show wasn’t altogether terrible. Vocalist-guitarist Paul Banks retained his unavoidable resemblance to Joy Division frontman Ian Curtis; guitarist Daniel Kessler looked rather dashing in his suit; bassist Carlos D. was by far the most entertaining (perhaps because he reminded me of Everett McGill in The People Under the Stairs, despite not having donned head-to-toe leather); and drummer Sam Fogarino, who was hidden at the back of the stage, didn’t miss a beat. All in all, Interpol delivered a nearly perfect set, and that’s got to count for something. Still, next time they play, I think I’ll just stay home and listen to their recordings. Hell, I may even dance.