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August 18, 2006
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Volume 34
Issue 33
 
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Where It's At
Wolf Parade marches to The Showbox, 80s rockers Styx play at Chateau Ste. Michelle
by Lorelei Quenzer and Jessica Browning - SGN A&E Writers

Wolf Parade w/ Frog Eyes

Monday, August 21 - 9pm

The Showbox - Tix at www.ticketswest.com / $15

Everything about Wolf Parade gives the impression of being ramshackle, off-kilter, lopsided. A lovely and thrilling kind of off-kilter, at that. They're a bunch of sweetly, raggedy Canadian boys based in Montreal who stumbled into their growing measure of success and continue to stagger into all the right places, up to and including The Showbox on Monday. Yes, Canada is responsible for the New Pornographers, Hot Hot Heat, Arcade Fire and even the likes of Celine and Alanis Morrissette, but don't let all the Canadian fuss overshadow Wolf Parade. Local label Sub Pop has given them a healthy boost and the future looks bright indeed, however improvised each turn in their history has been.

Even the quartet's initial formation accidentally sparked when singer/keyboardist Spencer Krug was offered a show with an early version of the now exalted Arcade Fire - as good a reason as any to get a band together. Assembling a talented lineup in time for the show was no problem with the addition of guitarist Dan Boeckner and drummer Arlen Thompson. Both were already actively playing and ready to hit the stage. Soon after, keyboardist and electronics manipulator Hadji Bakara joined and things began to get interesting.

Modest Mouse mastermind and Sub Pop protégée Isaac Brock took a liking to the four-piece from the start and not only took the band on tour, but helped secure an audience with Sub Pop, who signed the group right away. Their jerky, thoughtful, Tom Waits-esque sound was captured perfectly with Brock as producer. There's a kindred loose friction threading the songs together on their first effort Apologies to the Queen Mary. Twitchy stunners such as "You Are a Runner and I Am My Father's Son", and the more restrained "This Heart's On Fire" secured an opening slot for old friends Arcade Fire last summer, including a night at the Paramount Theater. Incidentally, the aforementioned Thompson contributed to a track on the Grammy-nominated Funeral. Ex-Hot Hot Heat guitarist Dante DeCaro is the newest recruit to Wolf Parade. A year has passed since their last Seattle appearances, at the Paramount and headlining at The Crocodile Café. They've likely tightened up and will be even more electrifying this time around. - J. Browning

Pre-concert CD recommendations: Apologies to the Queen Mary includes "Shine a Light", "You Are a Runner and I Am My Father's Son".

Styx

Wednesday, August 23 - 7pm

Chateau Ste. Michelle - Tix at www.ticketmaster.com / $39.50, $69.50

Spandexed and longhaired supergroups of the 70's and 80's may have looked Gay to the unbiased observer. Who's kidding who? They looked super-Gay. But Styx, the band that pioneered arena rock, had the real deal with their bassist Chuck Panozzo. In the closet for the band's chart-topping years, Panozzo came Out as Gay and HIV-positive shortly after the band wrapped its 2001 tour. He made his announcement at a very public forum, a 1000-plate dinner for the Human Rights Campaign, which Panozzo has described as the moment "the world embraced my being."

Before egos and hairspray tore the band apart in the mid-80s - oops! Sorry, they called it a "hiatus" - Styx charted ten songs in Billboard's Top 10 including "Lady," "Renegade," "Come Sail Away," and "Babe," which went number one in 1979. (I know I glided over a few, but I'm trying to block my memories of "Mr. Roboto." Geez, now that's gonna stick in my head for the rest of the weekend. Domo very much!) A reunion in 1990 spawned the hits "Show Me the Way" and "Love at First Sight," and several successful tours, plus or minus revolving band members, followed.

Panozzo and guitarist/vocalist James "JY" Young are the last founding members of Styx still touring with the group; Panozzo's twin brother, John (drums), passed away in 1996, John "JC" Curulewski (also on guitar and vocals) left the band in 1975, while keyboardist and singer Dennis DeYoung opted for solo opportunities. Thank gawd Tommy Shaw, who replaced Curulewski and propelled the band to power ballad greatness, isn't touring with Damn Yankees! Others in the 2006 incarnation of Styx are drummer Todd Sucherman, Lawrence Gowan on keyboards and vocals, and Ricky Phillips taking turns with Chuck Panozzo on bass. I'll admit that, seeing them on tour in 2001, I couldn't help thinking they all looked - and sounded - as hot as I remembered. They put on an awesome show.

Right. If you're still reading this I'm sure you've already seen the "Styx: Behind the Music" episode. Just go buy your tickets, already! The band's latest album, Big Bang Theory, is a modern "Rock Songbook," with covers of artists like The Who, Lovin' Spoonful and Jimi Hendrix. While fans may have been hoping for some originals, we'll have to be content with a live version of the Beatles' "I Am The Walrus." Actually, I think I'll stick with the classics: I'll take a bottle of the Chateau's Pinot Gris and the vintage hit "Lorelei," please! - L. Quenzer

Pre-concert CD recommendation: Big Bang Theory, featuring "I Am The Walrus," "I Can See For Miles" and "Manic Depression."

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