Dan Boeckner and Alexei Perry are married. They’re also in a band together. These two things are directly related, and luckily not in a sappy Mates of State kind of way. Rather the duo—who go by the name The Handsome Furs—uses their passion, love, and uh, tension to create something dynamic and alive.
“My friend saw these guys in Brooklyn last night and he said it was like seeing two people have sex on stage!” says the guy next to me eagerly as the band sets up Thursday night at Johnny Brenda’s.
“Tonight at midnight is actually our 2-year wedding anniversary,” admits Boeckner to the crowd sheepishly, about 10 minutes later.
Perry smiles. “What he doesn’t know is I’m going to make out with him at midnight!” she exclaims. The audience applauds enthusiastically.
The duo’s 45 minute set seems to pass in the blink of an eye, with Boeckner and Perry going absolutely crazy, bouncing around, flinging sweat into the crowd, and energizing the audience with thumping beats and effervescent melodies. Boeckner—who also plays in Wolf Parade—wails on his guitar and punches out lyrics while Perry—lipstick-ed and barefoot—works two synths and some pedals in between emphatic cheerleader jumps.
The duo plays most of 2009’s Face Control, as well as a few older tracks, and I’m impressed by how vibrant and alive it is. I had always thought of the Furs as a dark, haunted band—live, this couldn’t be further from the truth. The pair is full of smiles, positive quips and kisses (yes, kisses) and when they finally collapse on the stage at the end of their set, holding each other, the audience goes wild. This is definitely one of the best performances I’ve seen all year.
Of course, the openers aren’t too shabby either—another duo, Virginia-based the Cinnamon Band, kicks things off with a short set of exuberant tunes reminiscent of Big Star or Wilco, tempered with a big, arena rock edge.
“We’re actually moving to Philly after this tour,” says guitarist John Harouff after a triumphant finish. The crowd goes wild—these guys will be a great addition to the scene! “We need jobs,” he adds. “Seriously. If any of you want to hire us, we’re hard workers!”
Next up is emo-turned-reggae-meets-Motown singer Dri (Adrianne Verhoeven, formerly of the Anniversary) with a soulful, mellow set of bass grooves and smoky, impassioned singing. The crowd bops along cheerfully as Verhoeven—glad in orange crochet and holding a tambourine—lets loose, her back-up band contributing to the smooth tunes. It’s a solid prologue to an even greater main act—definitely a show to remember.