Handsome Furs: Klub Orlando, Dubrovnik: 28/04/2011

Handsome Furs at Klub Orlando, Dubrovnik 28/04/11

Tucked away behind an abandoned hospital, just out of reach from the heaving old town of Dubrovnik lies Klub Orlando.  Don’t let the name put you off, there is no risk of Lil’ Jon shouting about shrimp and white wine around this shady looking dive of a club which feels somehow forgotten amongst a hub of tourism.  At the opposite end of the country from the most common destination for international touring acts Zagreb, the arrival of the overzealous electro-pop of Handsome Furs from Canada seems more than a little unexpected though by no means unwelcome.


As part of an extensive European tour whose dates read more as an extensive Eurorailing trip than the more common blur of capital cities, you can understand why they’ve capitalised on the luxury of being in a two-piece band with your wife and a streamlined backline devoid of drum-kit.  It is a shame that the more accomplished Wolf Parade seem to have taken an indefinite hiatus, but you can’t help but feel more than a little envy for their flexible globetrotting lifestyle.


First on the bill for the evening is the relatively local Macedonian band Bernays Propaganda.  My hopes are high based on the apparel of the members sporting the names of solid potential influences such as Fugazi (though the existence of knock off merchandise with their name I’m sure would furrow the brow of Ian MacKaye).  Sounding like Gang Of Four fronted by a woman whose range stretches from brattish to shouty, it’s a sound that perfectly encapsulates all that was chic about 6 years ago.  I’m reminded of watching Les Savy Fav live for the first time where the backline sounds tight and creative while the vocals seem almost superfluous.  The difference, however, is that this lady has a hundredth of the charisma of Tim Harrington and doesn’t make up for it on the recordings as he does.  Despite this distraction, the beat is infectious and this packed out room definitely approves of what they hear with gusto.


Unfortunately, the reaction isn’t quite as warm as the emptier room is greeted by the sight of the fantastically ridiculous Handsome Furs.  Kicking off with the opening track of 2009 album Face Control, Legal Tender, Dan Boeckner sports a fetching white suit jacket that fits in more with my expectations of a place called Klub Orlando than the grungy colours of the clientele.  You can’t fault their enthusiasm though, with Dan concentrating on guitar and vocal duties whilst his wife Alexei Perry looks after everything else from the drum-machine to the synths, she still finds time for a few enthusiastic high-kicks along to the music.


With new album Sound Kapital due out this June, we’re treated to a few new tracks, though with their distinctly limited sound setup, it’s not a million miles away from the previous two albums.  No doubt this music translates a lot better on stage than it’s treble heavy recorded counterpart, I’m Confused is a belting song enough to win over those fence sitters in attendance, though I can’t stop thinking that this is no Wolf Parade.  However that was then and this is now so as Dan moves on so must we.  From the enthusiastic words between songs from Dan & Alexei including a shout to the couple who’d traveled hundreds of miles from Zagreb just to attend this show, they display a real comfort in their own skins in this project and their positivity and enthusiasm is contagious.  As they continue to get used to creating music together in this way, I believe there’s still potential for something special from Handsome Furs, but even if that doesn’t happen, their world traveling party-machine is a heck of an enviable way to get by.

  1. Actually, the Furs sounded quite striking once I was able to imagine a PA capable of conveying the analogue feel of the backing tracks (ok, not backing tracks per se). What I’m suggesting is basically a threesome. There has to be some reliable freak taking over the house sound who knows how it’s supposed to sound. I saw countless concerts at this very club and the only acts that seemed to sound as themselves always brought their own soundman/girl. Don’t ask me why…
    As for the Propaganda, this was their second time around at the club, so they knew how to play. However….this time I wasn’t as drunk as the last time when I attempted to hit on the singer. Actually, she is is a sort of a girl that I would marry in an instant if I had a slightest chance. In fact, I don’t think she would be out of place on stage with anyone that we consider a great front(wo)man.
    All the best.

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