Photos by Michael Cardiello
Operators rocked the roof off a sold out Baby’s All Right last Thursday. For those who aren’t up on all things Wolf Parade, Operators is led by Dan Boeckner (Wolf Parade and Divine Fits, formerly of Handsome Furs) with Sam Brown (Divine Fits and New Bomb Turks), Devojka and Dustin Hawthorne. First up, though, was Bogan Via, a sweet-sounding indie-pop duo from Phoenix. Their tunes, comprised of keys and vocals backed by samples with some guitar, came together well during their fun and playful set. It was a treat to finally see “Throw It On The Fire” and “Madly” performed live. I also highly recommend getting lost in their Soundcloud, as it’s chock full of pop-leaning gems.
Operators began their set the same way they begin their debut LP, Blue Wave, with “Rome” and “Control”. They proceeded to perform the rest of the album as well, before an encore of “True” and “Ancient”, two classics off 2014’s EP1. Sam Brown’s drumming on “Mission Creep” was really outstanding — on the record I assumed that the song’s complex beat was pre-set, but Brown’s ability to bring it to life was unreal. “Bring Me The Head” might be the most poppy Operators creation, and live it was an absolute treat. “Space Needle” is a heavy song, and live it was epic. One of the stunning characteristics of a Dan Boeckner performance is the sheer emotion on his face, and that emotion was at 5x for “Space Needle”, which features lines such as “I loved you California but you always left me blue.” In the encore, “Ancient” really came to life, bringing joy to the stage and packed room. Boeckner himself repeatedly reminded us that “this is really fucking awesome,” as he thanked the crowd.
In an era when so much live music relies heavily on pre-recorded tracks and performances that are beat-by-beat locked in place, Operators’ set seemed particularly impressive. Though they did use some analog loops that are queued up or triggered at specific moments, the band allows the songs to fundamentally evolve during a live set, creating a spontaneity that kept their music stimulating. Be sure to catch Operators next time around, really.