Indie pop’s legendary Spencer Krug is the mastermind behind the band Moonface. Krug, best known for fronting Sunset Rubdown and the recently disbanded Wolf Parade, is also involved with a number of other musical projects, including Frog Eyes, Swan Lake, Handsome Furs, Fifths of Seven, and Destroyer.
Moonface was born in January of 2010, when Krug posted a twenty-minute long track entitled “Dreamland EP: Marimba and Shit-Drums” as a pay-what-you-want release on his website. After the break up of Wolf Parade in May 2011, Krug focused his attention towards Moonface and, by the end of May, he had played shows in Montreal and Brooklyn under the name. He proceeded to release the album “Organ Music Not Vibraphone Like I’d Hoped” on record label Jagjaguar in early August. Soon after, he launched a lengthy tour across the U.S. and Canada, including this past Saturday’s POP Montreal show.
At the show, Krug fans gathered anxiously at Breakglass Studios to see his latest project in action. Expecting a large, crowded show, many were pleasantly surprised to find themselves in a space that more closely resembled a living room than a music venue.
Breakglass Studios is a cozy, third-floor recording studio in the Mile End. It is home to an impressive list of musical artists, including Krug’s bands Wolf Parade, Sunset Rubdown, and Moonface. Other big names that have recorded at Breakglass include Montreal-based bands Islands, Stars, Unicorns, Holy Fuck, Land of Talk, and Young Galaxy.
The fans, buzzing with anticipation, quickly filled up the small room, and a quiet hush fell over the crowd as a white linen curtain was pulled back to reveal the performance area. On a worn carpet, surrounded by paper Ikea floor lamps and lit-candles, stood the performers: Krug, smiling out over his electric organ and Mike Bigelow behind his large xylophone and electric drums.
Krug opened in an almost shyly soft voice, thanking the audience and noting, with no hint of irony, that he didn’t expect anyone to show up. He paused, exchanged a quick glance with Bigelow, and, at once, submerged the quiet studio in what seemed to be the voice of a different person entirely.
It’s difficult to pinpoint the origin of Moonface’s magic. Perhaps it’s Krug’s singing voice, which is, for lack of a more fitting word, profound. His speaking voice, understated and gentle, relays no hint of the deep and resonating beauty that occurs as he begins to sing. Bigelow’s percussion is also remarkable: his arms relentlessly appear to be a blur of motion, striking clear and ringing keys.
The pair has a remarkable chemistry, and there is a striking unity in their performance. Both men, though more-than-comfortably accomplished musicians, performed like they desperately had something to prove. They were drenched in sweat after fifteen minutes, striking keys with their entire bodies and barely pausing between songs.
The Dreamland EP opens with the line “I venture into a dreamland.” Nothing could be more fitting. Moonface’s music transports you into world built upon experimental sounds and imaginative meanderings. The best part: they’re Montreal-based and will likely be back after their October tour.