Moonface: in the pale light of day

It was nearly sleet. Driving water fell sideways and the wind, it howled. Something felt off about that night, hazy recollections ensued. Within confines, warmth was granted. The Chopin Theatre allowed a retreat. As we sat in the very first seats we came upon we found we were stage center, steps away from the mahogany grand piano in the middle of this theater in the round. Oriental rugs were placed gently underneath instruments to conceal cords and soften the sound. A spry and youthful audience began to fill the seats that remained, they were clad in Tuesday’s comfort. It was an intimate set-up, set dressings from the theater company’s recent project still in place.

iPhones, in unison, recorded the moments every step of the way. While my phobia of technology left me armed with my meager memory, a sharpie, and the back pages of a theater program guide. What came before all of this and how was it shared for mass consumption?

The room was dimly lit, a romantic hue, save for the mismatched mirrors with no glass that were present. Spencer Krug was beckoned to the stage with light applause. With trepidation, he entered through one of many oversized door frames placed at each corner of the set. He glanced around as though this was one of the most intimate forays he’d been privy to in some time. He was the show and all eyes were set on him. Each seat was unique and provided a view rarely attained at other music halls.

The set began with Krug’s sly banter and genuine smile, he’s got a knack for leading an audience to pasture. He urges that an informal approach is one he prefers. He begins the set with delicate piano, single-handedly maneuvering the keys, they mimic the rain. It’s witchcraft, a skip in a long stride, his vocals begin, leading all within to uncharted waters on high seas. Low tides oft emerge with lyrics that are haphazard yet insightful, whimsical. Krug is a composer on every level. His whiskey lips could sink ships as they warble and hum, unique and unlike the rest. His sound resonates as those same lips mock the microphone. They present brilliance which lends not to pretension but rather give an introspective take on the human condition, it’s larger than the afterlife. This set is serious.

The middle of the set sees Krug toying with maddening interludes while also playing those same keys with empathy. These songs make for treacherous and emotional bedfellows. The lyrics are romantic in a way no lover could ever be. They are untamed and leave no tear duct unscathed. He’s graduated from the gallows, a poet laureate. No mere lounge act, he comes equipped with insatiable lyric set to craveable tune. Encompassing an amount of allure, the music leaves me with heavy lids and baited breath. Delicate and fragile all the while manic and emotion-laden. Such is life, such is a Moonface set.

Krug as Moonface. Moonface, as Krug. It’s a brilliant dynamic which allows artist to flourish at capacity and under any growth, pomp, or circumstance. Under this moniker we’ve seen him release albums that span genres and experiment more than ever. Prior to this foray into self-awareness he shared the stage with others and formed bands, Sunset Rubdown and Wolf Parade, both highly regarded projects filled to the brim with talent.

His latest album, Julia With Blue Jeans On, sees Krug stripped down bare and adoring it. The lunacy that ensues when writing and performing on your own must be great. But we’re thankful he endures it for the sake of the music. This is poignant and this is ever-real, personal.

Helsinki’s a damn fine muse. Thank you for the encore.

-Holly Jones, editor, On Tour Magazine

Stay tuned for a full review of Julia With Blue Jeans On. For now, we suggest you take a listen to our favorite tracks on the album thus far: Barbarian, November 2011, Everyone Is Noah Everyone Is The Ark.