I didn’t realize the intricacy of Peter Wolf Crier’s arrangements until technical difficulties announced themselves with a microphone that didn’t work. Frontman and namesake Peter Pisano tested his vocals several times before the sound engineer came onstage to help him, and then Pisano wound up telling the engineer what to do. “Fucking amateur hour,” he said to the audience members in the front row, eliciting sympathetic laughter. Other than the vocal issues—which, unfortunately, persisted throughout the show—Peter Wolf Crier put on rousing live renditions of tracks off their latest album, Garden of Arms, during their release show at Minneapolis’ Cedar Cultural Center.
Local dream-synth trio Mystery Palace opened. At first, I thought their circuit-bending keyboard manipulation would be an odd fit with Peter Wolf Crier’s contemplative rock, but after seeing them back-to-back, I realize the pairing worked. Mystery Palace’s Ryan Olcott, also in the local experimental synth-based FoodTeam, utilizes his breathy vocals and soft ‘80s beats similarly to how Pisano loops his haunting voice: to engage the audience with atmosphere as opposed to stage presence.
Not that there wasn’t plenty of that. Spaced at opposite ends of the stage from each other, Pisano and drummer Brian Moen’s stage banter included Auto-Tuning Moen’s voice so it sounded like Mystery Science Theater 3000. Peter Wolf Crier went through most of Garden of Arms, including the bitter, elegant “Right Away”, “Beach”, and “Settling It Off”. These, along with more loop-based tracks such as the fittingly eerie “Haunt You”, sounded better in the Cedar’s echoing theater than harder tracks like “Krishnamurti” and “Having It Out”. The duo only dipped into their debut, Inter-Be, to play “Down Down Down”, avoiding their best-known songs “Crutch and Cane” and “Hard as Nails”. (A Minneapolis resident can only hear them play that album so many times.) They encored with a cover of INXS’ “Never Tear Us Apart” before leaving the stage, cementing their place yet again in the hearts and ears of Minneapolis.