moonface [2012]

The Independent
San Francisco, CA
12 September 2012

I knew him first as the kid keyboardist with the towel. 5 years and 37 bands later, he’s practically an indie elder.

Moonface is yet another fantastical creation from the prolific mind of Spencer Krug. He of Wolf Parade, Sunset Rubdown, Swan Lake and Frog Eyes fame. Moonface is no surprise to Krug fans. There is magic and wonder. There are incredibly inventive lyrics. There are dramatic, proggy chord progressions for miles.

What there isn’t, as I found out Wednesday at The Independent, is a towel. What I considered (from his Wolf Parade days) to be his signature stage marker – the symbol of his seemingly unending energy and passion, was unmistakably absent.

The grown-up version of Krug may not sweat as profusely, and may not move quite so frenetically around the stage, but he still plays and sings with incredible verve. Barely visible under his now long dark hair (parted down the middle in a vaguely Native American style), Krug wove through the mostly feverish, at times languid, set with a practiced skill that revealed his now-veteran status.

Though seemingly a solo project (based on studio releases), Moonface on tour is a collection of Canadians and Finns. Krug didn’t explain how this formation came about, but it proved a fine cultural mix. In what was their very first West Coast appearance, the two keyboards, guitar, bass and drum kit of Moonface came together to create beautifully complex and layered soundscapes.

They kicked off the night with “Quickfire, I Tried”, an unrelenting force of a song that builds on itself with a perfect, quiet intensity. “Yesterday’s Fire”, a song I’d never quite connected with on the recording proved fantastic live – Krug at his straight-up rock and roll best. Other highlights included “Teary Eyes and Bloody Lips” and “I’m Not The Phoenix Yet” – both churning with a wonderfully contained and controlled fury that I have come to associate fondly with Krug.

The image of a young man and his seemingly overmatched towel has been replaced by an older, wiser (yet still tiny) man ferociously pounding his open palm (or tambourine, or other assorted percussion instrument) against his chest – needing to feel the intensity of each beat throughout his body. And that’s just fine by me.