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The New Pornographers

Started: 2007-10-29 20:09:08

Submitted: 2007-10-29 20:45:11

Visibility: World-readable

My fall concert binge (see also: Arcade Fire and They Might Be Giants) concluded on 24 September when Kiesa and I attended The New Pornographers' concert at the Boulder Theater.

(I have to ask: What strange sense of humor does one have to have to name one's band "The New Pornographers"? Does Wal*Mart sell their albums, or do they have to black out the last word? Are their concerts picketed by well-meaning but sadly-misinformed evangelicals in middle America?)

It rained all day on Monday, 24 September. By mid-afternoon, the band's bus had pulled up in front of my office and began disgorging its contents into the theater. (I tried not to stalk the windows in the hopes of seeing the band's members wandering around.) When I left the office after work, I walked down the alley running perpendicular to Pearl Street, immediately behind the theater, cutting a few dozen meters off my trek to the city parking garage, and heard strains of my favorite New Pornographers song:

We thought we lost you
We thought we lost you
We thought we lost you
Welcome back

I met a collection of former iTi coworkers immediately after work and compared notes about our current employers and departed to meet Kiesa at Turley's for supper before the concert. (It's truly uncanny how Turley's took a standard Applebee's/TGI Friday's/Chili's/whatever and turned it into something unique without massive remodeling. The Boulder-friendly menu didn't hurt.)

The first opening band was The Awkward Stage, like The New Pornographers, another Vancouver*, BC band with a bizarre album cover but good music. (I should have bought their album and talked to their frontman after their set when I walked past the lobby merchandise table on my way to the restroom, but I didn't.) The second opening band was Lavender Diamond, which I despised; their music didn't work for me and their frontwoman's hippie prattle was annoying.

[* Since Kiesa is from the greater Portland area, my scoping rules for Vancouver are warped; an unattributed "Vancouver" tends to mean the Portland suburb in Washington, instead of the major city a few hundred kilometers north in British Columbia.]

Finally, The New Pornographers took the stage, with normally-non-touring member Neko Case. (I keep thinking I should figure out who's in the band before I attend live concerts, assembling something like "A Field Guide to The New Pornographers" or whomever the band is I'm seeing that night.) I tend to listen to their music more as background music, rather than paying attention to individual songs, so while I recognized much of the music I couldn't identify the specific title.

Towards the end of the show, frontman A. C. Newman introduced a song, saying they hadn't played in front of an audience before. "It's is part ballad," he said, "And part power ballad." In fact, their performance of "Adventures in Solitude" was the first time they intentionally performed the song in front of an audience, discounting the impromptu alley-concert in the afternoon. It wasn't quite the same without the cello, but it was great live.

When Johnny he saw the numbers he lied
Made up the whole thing, failed when he tried
To cash in on his cautious new fame
Always the numbers but never the name

(Like most rock concerts, the music was too loud for personal preference. I discovered that the earplugs I brought (first used to block out engine noise on trans-Atlantic plane flights) did not have a linear frequency response; they cut off the higher frequencies more than the lower frequencies. It turned out the Bode plot I drew in my mind matched the one I found when I Googled for concert earplugs.)

It was a great show.