The crowd was intimate but enthusiastic last Thursday night at Bottom of the Hill when Minneapolis natives Peter Wolf Crier took the stage. I have been admiring the simple dynamics on their latest release Inter-Be (Jagjaguwar) for a while now, and was looking forward to seeing how something as atmospheric and stripped-down would translate in a live setting.
Turns out, it translates wonderfully. Guitarist/vocalist Peter Pisano and drummer Brian Moen seemed to create each song note for note and beat for beat as opposed to simply playing a set. The structures came together wonderfully in the midst of Moen’s spot-on subtle patterns and Pisano’s array of pedals and effects. Songs like “Down Down Down” and “Hard As Nails,” already amazing on record, took on a life of their own live. Where the album gains credit for consistency and warmth, the live show soared with rawness and emotion.
Though both members were seated on stage, Pisano would oftentimes jump up mid-song to punctuate a line or windmill the strings a la Pete Townshend. Their sound was perfectly dialed in — I assume due to the fact that Pisano has his vocals, guitars, and foot-activated pedal synth running through his pedal board, and all coming out of the three amps behind him. With so much going on, I assumed there was a chance for the sound to get overwhelming, for the vocals to become overly saturated, or for the loops to turn what was once a beautiful ending into a chaotic struggle to regain composure, but this was never an issue. Pisano was both creative and effective in his use of vocal looping and effects. He was, at times, so slick in his precision that I’m sure some of the audience thought he was performing to preset tracks based.
After a busy year touring with bands like Vetiver, Heartless Bastards, Freelance Whales, and Rogue Wave, Peter Wolf Crier will soon be headlining their own tours. I’m just glad I saw them in such a warm and cuddly setting before the fame machine takes over.