Wednesday, October 24, 2007

"Nobody knows the wreck of the soul the way you do..." New Pornographers, Challengers

What a night last night. HOLY COW! Where to start? Well yesterday I worked, which, you know, is work. Not awesome.

Then I went to a concert. WHICH RULED!

I have a friend named Mauro who is a coworker of mine. He is a super funny guy, very witty and we have gotten into the habit of swapping music back and forth. So he, Lovely Wife and I went to Boston to go and see The New Pornographers. But let me back up, here is the excerpt of the email exchange between he and I when we set up the play date.


On Oct 4, 2007, at 8:06 AM, I wrote:

Mauro,
I don't know if you are interested, but New Pornographers are in Boston on Tuesday the 23rd (we have no show that night). If you are interested I could pick up some tickets to the show. If you aren't interested I will get them for myself and pick up a concert shirt for you. But it will be the lamest one possible.

Let me know tonight if you are interested.

-V

On Oct 4, 2007, at 10:45 AM, he wrote:
On Yes, yes, yes. Fuck yes! Get me a ticket. Where are they playing?
-Mauro


Now you understand the enthusiasm behind the participants. (And let me say that I would have followed through on the lame shirt promise. I would have hand delivered the stupidest looking shirt ever, and I would have done it with pride and a smile. So it is a good thing he came along.)

We met up for lunch at a restaurant in East Providence and then drove, the three of us, up to Boston for the show.

The venue was Roxy, which is about as awesome a concert hall as can be had. Really personal, I think at any point I could have reached out and touched Neko Case (but there might have been a restraining order if I had). Doors opened at about seven o'clock and my first thought was that we would be the oldest people there: we weren't, not even close as it turned out.

While we waited in line at the door there was this kid--nineteen or so--behind us who was really quite an enthusiastic youth. Very interested in Indie/Prog rock and willing to listen to other people talk about it. We had a fun little discussion about the way music blew up in the late 80's and early 90's and how after years of shit suddenly bands like Flaming Lips, Yo La Tengo, Belly, Throwing Muses, Zumpano, and Destroyer were lighting up the music scene. But it wasn't limited to those bands in the Indie genre, Hip-hop, Grunge, Rock & Roll were all changing the way we listened to music and it was a great time to be young. And this kid was eating it up. At one point I think we geeked out and started talking about our favorite TMBG songs and I can't remember exactly how he phrased it but the young kid said that we lived through the previous Indie period and knew so much. I couldn't tell if I wanted to punch him or hug him.

The show started at 7:30 with a band out of DC called Benjy Ferree. I actually can't tell if it is a band or a guy with a back up band but whatever. They were a great first act. Great energy, the lead singer was really motivated to putting on a great show--as I learned later, he is an actor so that explains why they have such a good show, theatrically. They also have a female drummer which is one of my favorite things. Don't know why but it is. They got about 45 minutes, struck their own stuff and really did a great job of rocking out. I don't know how I would describe their music, but Southern comes to mind. Not like Lynard Skynard though. Definitely not Freedom Rock. More like something you would have a Mint Julip party to. There is a cello in the band, the lead guitarist is well versed in bluegrass roots and they pulled the show off fantastically. The first thing I did when I got home was add them to my myspace page. Which says something, because I have an intense dislike for Myspace. I am listening to their album right now and I will freely admit, I am a fan, I would see them again in a minute if they came back through town.

Now in the gap between shows this curly haired kid and his trashed special lady friend came barreling through the crowd. Both of them were pretty drunk and when they finally settled it was right in the middle of me and my group of friends. So here is my proof of my age this week. When I was twenty-five I would have been pissed and let it ruin the night, I probably would have found an opportunity to sneak an elbow into kidney and would have felt vindicated. However, I didn't, as it turned out, have to do anything. When the kid settled with hysterical girlfriend, Mauro said very plainatively, "Well. That was lame." (Notice the lack of exclamation point. That is not a typo. It was said with the same enthusiasm that someone would order split pea soup.) Drunky O'Drunkihan turned around and started joking, but we are short, we needed to get closer. Mauro looked him up and down and confirmed that they guy was in fact not tall but that barging through a crowd of people, beer sloshing to and fro, hysterical girlfriend in tow, is, in fact, still lame, regardless of your vertical stature. So the kid asked if moving to the right would be okay. Mauro seemed to think that was a good idea. So they moved up in front of Nicky, who bless her heart had to keep the girl propped up with her forearm. At one point the girl turned around to me and said, through squinted eyes a beer lolling around in her hand, "I'm not trashed!" (see the exclamation point. She pointed at me, and was really defensive about it, ergo, exclamation). I looked at her, not really knowing what to make of it, and said, "Uh... okay. Cool." Unbeknownst to me Mauro and Nicky had just gotten finished talking about the girls state. I liked it better when I thought that they turned around apropos of nothing and defended herself.

Next up was Emma Pollock. Emma hails from Glasgow, Scotland (*Sigh* they talk so pretty in Scotland) and it seems, according to her website, that getting over here was a harrowing experience. They were almost sans a drummer. When Emma came on stage, I have to admit that my first thought was, "Oh Great," with plenty of sarcasm. YOu have to have seen her. Black sun dress, longish hair, nymph-y face and a black stockins with keds. I didn't expect her to be as spectacular as she was. She reminded me of Juliana Hatfield or Tanya Donnelly. Totally amazing performance. Great voice, great songs, and she ruled. There was one point where she stopped to share an amusing anecdote (god I felt 95 as I wrote that phrase) about her experience at a live show on a local radio station and a couple of groups around me (Drunky and the Trainwreck in particular) started extolling the virtue of her... Irishness. I swear sometimes I hate Americans. I was reminded of that sketch that Mike Myers used to do about "If it's not Scottish it's crap!" One of my favorites. Anyway I am digressing here. Go out and buy this album or hunt her down and find a show, you won't be disappointed. She was spectacular.

Now the main event. Wow!

You have to understand that The New Pornographers are probably my currently most played band. Three just totally bang-up, top-notch musicians; Neko Case, A.C. Newman, and Dan Bejar; and four or five great musicians; Kathryn Calder, John Collins, Todd Fancey, Kurt Dahle; who take the stage as a group and then... just kick ass. I don't even have the words to describe them. But I will say this. Go Places which is track nine on the new album might be favorite song of the last five years. And hearing it live was really really moving. I feel like a big dumb kid because I can't say enough about how awesome the show was. Carl Newman might be crazy, he might be a genius, it might be both. Neko Case could sing the 'G' pages of the yellow book and make it sound sexy. Dan Bejar sang a song on stage holding a Corona, and a shaker that was shaped like an Orange and he had my attention through the entire duration of the song. I am a guy that will forget what the fuck I am saying as I am saying it. Ask my friends they will tell you it is true. And this band had my undivided attention for 2 hours.

Challengers might be the best album of the year, it might be the best album of the last five years. I don't know. I will leave it to you. I will tell you that if you like music, like I like music, you should go and see The New Pornographers. You won't be disappointed, not one bit.

The only downside to the night was that when we got back to the car there was a forty dollar parking ticket on the windshield. Drats. Stupid resident parking.

3 Comments:

Blogger Adam Shprintzen said...

Dude, bad to tha ass. I went to go see The Polyphonic Spree last week which was a total blast. G-d I love live music...

10/24/2007 10:08:00 PM  
Blogger crazywanda said...

Todd Fancey is leading an online tour & chat from the tour bus in new orleans on halloween day if yr interested...
http://whatarerecords.com/FANCEY/

http://rockme.dium.com

10/30/2007 03:27:00 PM  
Blogger V. said...

fuck yes I am interested.

10/30/2007 03:28:00 PM  

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