While I was first introduced to Wire thanks to Henry Rollins’ hyping of the band on his show on KCRW, openers Weekend have turned out to be the happy accident resulting from that initial introduction. The spry, cinematic post-punk trio from San Francisco occasionally outdid the headliners in terms of energy output, if only by sheer consistency. Conjuring atmospheric swells of noise that lit the fuse of suburban ennui, their set was a combination of jangling bass lines and reverb overkill that sounded at times like listening to a Jesus and Mary Chain LP at twice the normal rpm. If nothing else, they did at least manage to take the edge off being stuck in a crowd with a puddle of obnoxious drunk looks-like-they’re-18-year-olds that smelled like they hadn’t showered since the last time they shit their pants, doing their best to get kicked out of the show. Gettin’ on stage, grabbin’ that mic? Ugh, GTFO and clean yourself up.
Wire began their set with the driving cacophony of “Comet,” leading straight into “Smash,” off of this year’s Red Barked Tree. Somewhere around “Please Take” things downshifted to laid-back, poppier territory, with the next few songs hovering around that same melodic range. I wasn’t entirely won over by the change, but along comes songs like “Moreover,” “106 Beats That,” and “Red Barked Trees,” and expectations are restored.
Wire traded in their youthful snarl displaying instead a rather muted self-assurance bordering on standoffishness that brought the slower numbers even further down and gave a certain hollowness to the heavier, harder punk songs. I wasn’t expecting them to tear around the stage or anything – I’ll leave that to the immortal/undead Iggy Pop – but the lack of energy was dissatisfying because it’s not the material that wants for it. Occasionally the band seemed like they were just trying to get through the set – the resulting performance at times felt more like a rehearsal than the main event, but then suddenly they would switch around and slap you with the groundbreaking art-punk that is their whole aesthetic. It was a bit on-and-off, but at the high-water mark, the intensity was what you’d expect from a band with their roots.
While sometimes disjointed, the set picked up speed halfway through; the songs off of Red Barked Tree – which I haven’t gotten around to listening to it in it’s entirety yet – were promising, and the first encore, which ended with the rising-alarm intensity of “Underwater Experiences” peaked the evening for me.
© Liz Keith, Music Vice
Pictures of Weekend and Wire in Montreal: