Saw 45 minutes or so of Interpol, and maybe 10 minutes of Blonde Redhead, at Radio City Music Hall last night. Blonde Redhead were, I'd been told, a lame ripoff of Sonic Youth. They weren't; at least, not the song or two I heard. What I heard/saw was a lame ripoff of Sigur Ros. Arriving slightly late has definite perks sometimes.
Interpol were not the most exciting band I've ever seen. In fact, they might be the least exciting band I've ever seen. With the exception of the guitarist (whose name I can't recall), they basically stood in their chosen spots for the entire set. The bassist occasionally walked a step or two toward the drum riser, then back to his position near the keyboardist. The vocalist, who didn't even have the decency to sport a snazzy suit like his bandmates (he was wearing a crappy gray V-neck sweater over a white button-down shirt, like some college asshole), stayed within two steps of his microphone at all times. Entertainment was mostly provided by the strobe lights, which were so over-the-top that the venue actually posted warning signs in the lobby.
I like Interpol's music. Both their albums are really good, and the second isn't just a rehash of the first - it's more upbeat, and complex, and in almost every way an improvement on an already strong core concept. But live, they just don't have what it takes. The songs (which, again, I like a lot) sounded like rough mixes of the albums, and there was no stage patter or real interaction between band and audience. I would have even settled for some old-school-hardcore-style "little jump, little jump, big jump" unison action from the guitarist and bassist. Shit, even Sum 41 can manage that.
The crowd was also annoying. The whole reason for going to shows at Radio City Music Hall, particularly shows by boring bands, is that the sound system's really good, and the chairs are really comfortable. So sit the fuck down and enjoy the music, right? Nope. All the skinny assholes in their retro early 80s hipster garb, and their girlfriends with their shapeless rumps wedged into ironically too-tight low-cut jeans (the better to show off standard-issue above-the-ass tattoos), were on their feet, enraptured, throughout, as though anything Interpol was doing onstage deserved anything more than a golf clap in response. I figured the 250- or 300-pound dude directly in front of me wouldn't be able to stay on his feet for very long, so I sat behind him, waiting for him to get tired and sit back down, but he didn't. So, a few times, I was required to elevate myself just to make sure that yeah, the band was still on stage and yeah, they were still doing their Hall of Presidents thing.
I'm probably making it sound like I had a worse time than I did. The songs were good, the sound was good, I bought a T-shirt, I'm glad I went. But I like Interpol's music way more than I like their fans, and I'm gonna stick to listening to the albums from now on - they won't be getting $98 out of me for two concert tickets again.