Wolf Parade - Rostraver Ice Garden 10-8-2004

Montreal’s greatest dual-vocalist rock group of all-time, Wolf Parade, found international success during their short but explosive run. Their Sub Pop debut, Apologies to The Queen Mary, was a critically acclaimed album that put Montreal on the map as a prominent indie scene. Recently, a site called WolfParade.nonstuff.com has put up a free bootleg for download titled "Rostraver Ice Garden 10-8-2004" which is a live set that was recorded while the band was on tour supporting Modest Mouse and The Walkmen. Although the website holds no official ties to the band, you can find numerous bootlegs, pictures, playlists and an abundance of material from Wolf Parade affiliates such as Sunset Rubdown, Handsome Furs and Moonface.

In terms of a bootleg, the quality of "Rostraver Ice Garden" is amazing. Not only can you hear the fans ramble on in to conversations with guitarist Dan Boeckner (who mentions more than once that he is beyond drunk), but the sound of the band’s music is crisp and clear as day. If there is anything a Wolf Parade fan knows, it is that when you see the band live it is always an unpredictable experience (besides the fact that they always have technical problems with their creative instruments). Spencer Krug and former member Hadji Bakara specialize in improvisation, adding sounds and electronic parts to the songs that aren’t apparent on record. This also happens on this live album, many times.

The performance includes excellent renditions of forgotten Wolf Parade classics such as “Disco Sheets” and “Killing Armies”, tracks that were not performed live during the latter years of the band’s existence. The album opens with an energy-fuelled “Day In The Life”, a cover from Boeckner’s former band, Atlas Strategic. Some exceptional numbers from Apologies To The Queen Mary are highly enjoyable, including the single “Shine A Light” and the highly contagious “Dear Sons and Daughters of Hungry Ghosts”. You can tell by the performance that the band really got into their groove quickly and that was something quite special about these early Wolf Parade shows. There was no sound-check for this performance and these early Wolf Parade shows were primarily based on fun rather than trying to impress under pressure. This live album is exactly that: a whole lot of fun. It reminds Wolf Parade fans that the shows were about positive energy and there was no pressure that the band needed to live up to. It did not matter if the band sounded a little off or the vocals sounded strange; it was part of the act.

The most depressing part about this free offering is that we may not see this band reunite for quite a while. Take this as a gift, think about what Wolf Parade meant to you (because they meant a lot to yours truly) and have fun remembering it.

-Alex Giardini