Tonight in Seattle:  

New Pornographers

Photos: Ryan Schierling

14 Jun 2003 at The Showbox

While I'd never had the privilege of seeing the New Pornographers before, I was feeling excitement approaching superfan-dom at the prospect of seeing what the wonderful and local Neko Case could do when surrounded by a bunch of talented guys in this amazing uber-talented Canadian supergroup.

OK, two things. One, the New Pornographers, despite all the press they've received to the contrary, do not consider themselves as supergroup. As Carl told us during our Coffee with a Rockstar interview, the New Pornographers is the only band he's played with in five years. "If you think about it, every band comes from other bands, so any band could be described as a superband," he said. Which is a good point, really.

And dude —Neko is from Tacoma.

So?

 

So... now you want to consider Tacoma local?

 

New Pornographers. Photo by Ryan Schierling.Hey, if it means we get to claim Neko Case, then YES.

Plus I've heard that Hell's Kitchen club is a fun place to see a show.

And they've got that pro-Tacoma billboard ad campaign around town. It's very convincing. They've got light rail and you can get a building permit in less than a month!

And Neko rocks. So does Kurt... he plays the straight man in the comic banter perfectly and the guitar jabs he creates... and Blaine can drum and sing at the same time...

Whether they're a "superband" or not, they sure are a super band {yes, insert groan here for terrible pun}. But seriously, every band member demonstrated incredible prowess with their instruments, and most were singing while doing it (I always like to give bonus points for multi-tasking).

Together they create songs that follow some log rhythmic formula to hit that perfect balance between hooks, dissonance dueling vocals, and cymbal crash. Their hyper-helium harmonies and joyous melodies kept me drifting on a New Porn high for days after the show.

They sound like malt shop rock. Mmm. Malt shop rock is sugary goodness that seems as if it comes from the 50's. It's wholesome and refreshingly fun and light — but it's still rock. That's my new phrase to describe the unique cute, freshly-scrubbed poppy harmonies of the New Pornographers, especially live.

New Pornographers. Photo by Ryan Schierling. Totally. They're so earnest and good-natured that they can create a choruses of, "My slow descent / into alcoholism it went," and make them sound like the feel good anthems of summer. Wacky.

And don't get me started on how even though I have no idea what the bulk of their songs are about. It matters not. I can sing along with such emotion that people passing me on the highway think that I must be singing along to the Carpenter's "Superstar." "Don't you remember you told me you loved me baby?!"

I must confess, I was a bit nervous before Electric Version was released. Could they possibly create another album full of wonderous hit-worthy songs? Their first album, Mass Romantic, was nearly tiring because each song required a dance routine. The new album did not disappoint. "The End Of Medicine" and "From Blown Speakers" pick up right where "Letter to an Occupant" left off.

The songs from both albums translated to the Showbox so well. Hearing Neko live always makes me tear up, her voice is such a benediction...

Yea, they are mad crazy hit machines.

I am so glad to have them on our roster of local bands. So yes, with talents like these, we'll count both Vancouver and Tacoma as local. So there.

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