sunset rubdown [2009]

Rickshaw Stop
San Francisco, CA
24 June 2009

I’m a little too young to have grown up with progressive rock and, since my older brother wasn’t listening to Rush (it was all hip-hop for him), I never really understood the whole draw.

That is, until years later, when I first heard the music of Spencer Krug, he of the 12 year-old face, 4 bands and a seemingly endless supply of songs. Now, I still don’t really know what makes rock prog, but when I first heard Krug’s music, I felt like it had all come together.

Krug’s music, whether it’s through Sunset Rubdown, Wolf Parade or Swan Lake (Frog Eyes isn’t really his project), is all about the drama. Dramatic, sweeping melodies, dramatic key changes, dramatic time signature shifts. You get the idea.

In the truest sense of progressive, Krug experiments with all of the elements available to him, all the while showcasing a theatrical flourish associated more with operatic musicals than indie acts. His lyrical references to dragons and prophecies only solidify his position in the prog world.

On this sold-out, packed-in-like-sardines night at the Rickshaw Stop, not even Gigantor who, minutes before SR’s set began, wedged himself into the 2″ of space directly in front of me and completely obscured my view (and violated my most personal space)…not even the broken air conditioning unit above my head, erratically dripping ice-cold water (hopefully) down onto me throughout the show…not even the bored girl checking her bright-ass Blackberry every 2 minutes…

On this night, no one and no thing could ruin what was a truly spectacular performance by Krug and his merry band of musicians. Mad energy flowed from the stage through the surging crowd and right back to Krug – an urgency of sound and emotion that captivated and compelled to movement.

The set stayed very true to the recently-released Dragonslayer, which was just fine by me. Some people might have wanted a little more play, but I say there’s plenty of time to experiment during future tours. Sadly, this may be the last time they ever play such an intimate venue as the Rickshaw, but it certainly did fit them well and made for an appreciative packed crowd.

Call it prog. Call it keyboard rock. Call it what you like. It’s big, it’s unpredictable and it’s fun. It’s the music of Spencer Krug and I like it.