Mexicans love Interpol. Or Mexican-Americans, at least. But who really knows what the background was of the dark skinned, dark haired, and enthusiastic-as-all-hell fans who dominated the crowd in the barely-considered-Los Angeles town of Pomona on Tuesday night.
Half of me felt at home on the floor, while the other half wanted to beat the rain-soaked traffic back to civilization, grab a bowl of Matzo Ball Soup, and watch the History Channel. Yes, as a child of wildly-mixed heritage, which is becoming more the norm in America, I rarely feel a sense of kinship with much of anyone. And at the shows I go to, while light-skinned Anglos do dominate, Los Angeles is so diverse that it is rare to notice a specific racial or cultural demographic sticking out. Sure, She & Him will bring out the white chicks, and there is a remarkably large contingent of Asian-American supporters of The Pains of Being Pure at Heart, but the Latin-American turnout for this Interpol show caught me by surprise. It was my first time seeing the New York group, who within three albums have gone from critical darlings to mainstream darlings to no one’s darlings. Now, for a self-titled release that could be seen as a new beginning, Interpol, on Tuesday night, were the Mexicans’ darlings.
And though the Chicano culture may be pre-conditioned to embracing Interpol only by proxy of their debt to The Smiths, Interpol rose to the lofty expectations of the sold-out crowd of more than 2,000. White Rabbits did not fare quite as well in their role as openers. As a six-piece, they sound unusually thin, probably because two or three of their members are playing percussion at all times and their singer lingers behind a piano.But where they fall short in umph, they make up for in, well, drums, I guess. Even their radio hit, which they wisely saved for their final number, is called “Percussion Gun”. And though I have no problems with an abundance of time-keeping participants, it really seemed superfluous and most of their songs leave you wondering if they could be a three-piece and sound roughly the same.
There were a few standouts, though, including the first song on their first album (and the best song on any of their albums), “Kid On My Shoulders”, and the melodic and particularly Spoon-ish “They Done Wrong/We Done Wrong”. Spoon lead singer Britt Daniel, in fact, produced their most recent record, It’s Frightening. And though they do sound very much like Spoon, they fail to match the tension that gives Spoon’s spare songs their value. The crowd seemed less forgiving than me, showing amusement when lead singer Stephen Patterson tried too hard to replicated the scratchy yell that soars in “Percussion Gun”. This was after showing utter disinterest throughout the earlier songs, offering nothing more than foot taps and blank stares for the hard-working youngsters.
But for Interpol, it was a different experience entirely. Like the Hollywood Bowl on Friday, aisle ways were jammed full of people and order seemed to be barely maintained by the spread-thin security, and only by the audience’s willingness to abide. And when the crowd exploded for opening song “Success”, it was clear that it would have received a favorable response no matter what. Choosing three songs from Antics to follow, though, was pure genius. They had the fans, and this reviewer, eating out of their fingertips.
The set covered all four records, with third album Our Love To Admire notably only represented by the terrific “Rest My Chemistry”. I was a little disappointed when the band emerged and turned out not to be cocaine-fueled robots, as I had long imagined. No, they were shockingly young men, in fact, and especially for a band with 10 years of recording behind them. But seeing them as young men casts a strange light on their critics, who have all but written off a band with four records behind them as “declining,” “redundant,” and “boring.” Well, if they were going after one of those words to defend themselves, the last one would be the easiest to prove wrong on this night.
Paul Banks showed both emotion (wha?) and personality (wha? wha?) as frontman for the group, demonstrating a true joy for playing for fans and taking time away from the spotlight to jam with founding member of the group, Daniel Kessler. Kessler showed remarkable enthusiasm as well, marching out to the tip of the stage to bond with fans and showing some bad-ass sliding dance moves. As for the remaining members, they were competent at their duties but hardly notable for anything.
As they made their way through their 90 minute set, it became clear that the crowd was going to erupt for every song, but “Evil”, which caused a massive sing-along and their most Smiths-y number “Say Hello To The Angels” were clear standouts. The slow-burn of “Lights” was also successful, showing that the band still has a sense of what they do best. But with an encore that consisted of all songs from their first record, Turn Out The Bright Lights, the band seems to be admitting where their best material could be found.
Sadly, “Obstacle 1” was not played, (my personal favorite Interpol song, FYI) but an even more massive sing-along of “NYC” nearly made up for it. And though closer “PDA” was a spirited finisher, I waited until the house lights went on, in case my song might still be coming. I overheard numerous conversations from taken-aback attendees, shocked by how into the concert everyone was. It might not have been Morrissey-ecstatic (I saw him in December and during the closing number, he ripped of his shirt and I thougth the amphitheater was going to collapse from the sudden increase of sexual energy), but Interpol may be the heir to his Los Angeles’ throne. They have a second, larger show scheduled for the Greek Theater over the weekend and I’d imagine a Coachella stop after that. Add to that possibly being the new patron-band for an entire people, and, well, things have to be looking pretty good in Interpol-land.
Photography by Philip Cosores.
Take You On A Cruise
Rest My Chemistry
Say Hello To The Angels
Try It On
Not Even Jail
Gallery by Philip Cosores