Handsome Furs don’t hate this city, fortunately. Back in Dublin for the first time since he spat all over me alongside Spencer Krug and the rest of Wolf Parade two years ago, Dan Boeckner seems to have positive opinions of Whelans. “This is probably my favourite bar to play”, he said, likely being serious. Having been witness to Wolf Parade’s first coming on a fake ID and more awe than I care to recall, I can safely say that Handsome Furs are a different experience.
They are comprised of the second most important member of Wolf Parade (and writer of Modern World, Shine A Light and others), Dan Boeckner and his wife Alexei. There is a vague feeling of “proving a point” about their show, which probably isn’t intended at all. Alexei is pretty minimalist in her contributions – she presses play on the drum machine and plays fairly rudimentary chords on the Korg. It’s really Dan’s project though, and songs that probably could have been sung in harmony with Spencer end up here stripped down with distorted guitar and bare beats.
My perspective here is skewed because I’ve been really into Wolf Parade since 2005, but I’ve always felt that the charm of Spencer is in the closeness, how intimate and almost oppressive he can sound with Wolf Parade and especially with Sunset Rubdown. And conversely, Dan has always sounded like he dealt in space. He thrives with Handsome Furs, alone onstage providing the backing to his own songs of uncertainty with his wife’s support. Maybe being from western Canada makes your songs sound like miles of forests, or maybe it’s specific to Dan Boeckner, but he’s loud and he means it, and it would be a mistake to ignore Handsome Furs just because they don’t involve Spencer Krug. Get Plague Park.