Since their early EPs, Wolf Parade has thrived as an outlet for keyboardist Spencer Krug and guitarist Dan Boeckner to share frontman duties despite their contrasting styles. Krug's unmistakable wailing and Boeckner's fine whine made the band's 2005 debut, Apologies To The Queen Mary, sound almost like a collaboration between two completely different bands. The two appeared separated even further when Krug and Boeckner officially joined two different bands -- Krug released material with Sunset Rubdown, and Boeckner formed Handsome Furs. Both groups sounded like Wolf Parade, while managing to not sound like each other.
For being co-frontmen, the duo are nearly mutually exclusive in the lyrics department. Although they're vocal communists (Krug and Boeckner each sing exactly six songs on their debut, and exactly four out of the first eight tracks on their follow-up, At Mount Zoomer) one hardly ever offers more than an occasional backing vocal in the other's songs. The two finally did collaborate on the final track of Zoomer, but the album did have an odd number of tracks, so teaming up could have been less inspiration and more like your mom cutting the last piece of pie in half so you and your brother don't beat the crap out of each other fighting over it. At least they're willing to share.
Given their lack of duets and the birth of Wolf Parade-esque side projects, I assumed Krug and Boeckner were headed for a breakup. I thought they might be able to pull off a dual solo project release like OutKast did with Speakerboxxx/The Love Below, but then was immediately dismayed that I had even considered them mimicking a CD that spawned the phrase "shake it like a Polaroid picture." Ironically, the reasons I doubted Krug and Boeckner's loyalty to each other were the same reasons why they put on such an amazing show.
Much like on their albums, Krug and Boeckner went song for song onstage, but they also had the advantage of being able to blend their two albums together. As the group took the stage, a clean-shaven Krug belted out "You Are A Runner And I Am My Father's Son," the sporadic, keyboard peppered opener to Queen, along with the rest of the band's five-piece touring lineup. Boeckner, thin as an Olsen twin with a beard, followed with "Soldier's Grin," from the softer yet darker Zoomer. Group chemistry was undeniable, and the quintet played their asses off for nearly two hours, running like a well-oiled (or at least sweat covered) indie-rock machine. Whereas I mistakenly focused on the imaginary divide between Krug and Boeckner in the studio, it was easy to see that they not only coexisted, but thrived together in a live environment. Boeckner soaked his white button-up shirt and size-zero jeans to the bone with sweat by about the fourth song, and the group never looked back.
Balancing the relatively mainstream rock of Queen with the sparse, keyboard-driven feel of Zoomer, the band tore through about five songs at a time, only stopping briefly to catch their breaths and let the audience applaud wildly. The band catered to fans of their straightforward rock sound by playing guitar-driven tracks like "This Heart's on Fire," and also added a fullness to newer songs that wasn't present in studio recordings. For instance, the relatively subdued and simple "Fine Young Cannibals" became impossible to keep quiet with the quintet firing on all cylinders, largely due to the melodic backing vocals and inspired shredding of guitarist Dante DeCaro. DeCaro -- known by some as the guy who wrote the catchy riffs on Hot Hot Heat's first two albums back when they didn't suck -- seems underutilized and smothered with keyboards on Zoomer, but live, his riffs played a much bigger and louder role.

Before leaving the stage, the band played "Kissing the Beehive," the aforementioned lone duet between Krug and Boeckner. "Beehive," an 11-minute journey that can be intimidating in studio form fared better live, as it hinted at what Krug and Boeckner are really capable of as collaborators. The sold-out crowd already seemed satisfied before the band came back onstage and declared that they would play two more songs. Fan participation reached an euphoric high when the band added a third encore song, "I'll Believe In Anything," which had nearly everyone shouting along.
Ultimately, the significant differences between Krug and Boeckner didn't tear the band apart; in fact they had quite the opposite effect. Seeing Wolf Parade live was like seeing two great bands at the exact same time, a very special feeling. While Krug and Boeckner have different visions and sounds, each knows when to take the back seat and support his bandmates with utmost enthusiasm. So while many bands tear themselves apart with clashing egos, Wolf Parade's polarized sound proves that creative differences can actually turn out to be a good thing.