Wolf Cry Wolf Cry

When you're in a band, you can be one of several kinds: performer, musician, artist, etc. If you're in a rock band, you also run the danger of being arrogant and achingly egotistical in your stage antics. Wolfmother - the Austrian trio that has been taking the media by storm, and seemingly putting an end to the "Wolf" parade (zing!) - was kind enough to leave whatever over-the-top cock rock bags at their hotels. Performing a sold out show at the Paradise, sponsored by WBCN, they ripped and roared through most of their debut album.

When I last reviewed their album, I gave credit to Andrew Stockdale's voice, but it was tonight that I realized the talent of bassist/keyboardist Chris Ross. Having seen many things in the vein of double-instrumentation, Ross' punk rock antics and one-hand-on-bass-one-hand-on-keys stunts were impressive. Stockdale stood out with his odd, half-Jagger / half-Carrot Top sort of look, adorned with vintage guitar and black suede vest on his skin and bones frame.

Wolfmother @ the Paradise in Boston, MA

Nonetheless, Wolfmother was perfect...and I don't necessarily mean that in a good way. Perfectly pitched vocals? Check. Proper rock 'n roll stage gestures? Check. Drummer chewing gum? Che...wait, what?! The songs were flawless, and Stockdale made the guitar solos look so painfully easy to play regardless of how much complexity seemed to escape the amps. Amongst the high-fives and "Now this is rock 'n roll!" comments around me, someone said "This is soooo contrived, I'm actually incredibly underwhelmed right now."

Mixed feelings? Not quite. Wolfmother is a great band. But they are also performers. They can deliver the songs that they've written with ease and perfection, but it depends greatly on what it is the audience wants. Do they want this, or do they want the possessed artists that produce something quite different than what ends up on their records (see: Tom Waits, Tori Amos, old Converge, etc.)? One is not better than the other, it's simply a matter of perspective.

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