Review: Handsome Furs, Basketball

One conspiracy theory I heard last night from one person, who may have just been putting it forward for the sake of it, was that Handsome Furs weren’t actually playing their instruments live and were in fact singing along to a prerecorded track.

The theory is nonsense for so many reasons, like the funky mixing at the show or the odd musical changes made from record to live show.

The Furs owned the house, and did it live.

That’s not just institutional bias on the part of the prairie dog talking, although all staff and writers in attendance thoroughly loved the band. (Editor and Fan Boy-in-Chief Stephen Whitworth can be seen at left after the sweaty rock show, holding a signed copy of our cover story.)

The nature of the band — the married duo of Alexei Perry and Dan Boeckner — is that some music was programmed beforehand. They’re a duo with a huge live sound, performed with drum beats and few synth lines they brought in before. Outside of that, Boeckner and Perry both pounded away at their synths, with Boeckner often whaling on a guitar that was criminally low in the mix.

They more than delivered the heart and intensity their honest and political songs deserve.

The material they played was largely off their new album, Sound Kapital, which was fine by me. Listening to the album before the set, it seemed designed to destroy at concerts. The combo of synths and Boeckner’s general rock ‘n’ roll nature is perfect, allowing the concertgoers upfront to do their dance thing and everyone else to just get blown back by the sound.

The crowd, while not huge, was appreciative and it seemed like the band noticed. Let’s hope that means we’ll be a destination again when they do some more domestic touring.

Basketball weren’t a worthy opener. The Vancouver band felt like Animal Collective runoff at best, agonizingly lacking in self-awareness at their worst. It takes a special kind of frontman to pull off humping a mic stand, but I don’t know any band that can have the singer do his thing while covering his eyes with castanets.

But Handsome Furs are a band that lives and dies by their live show. And it fucking shows.

Author: James Brotheridge

Contributing Editor with Prairie Dog.