Saturday, June 19, 2010

The New Pornographers @ The House of Blues, Boston

When we find ourselves making the case for Connecticut, it is inevitable that we mention how close we are to other cool places, like say NYC or Blandford (Ma). Of course in reflection it always seems we haven’t fully exploited this proximity to its fullest extent. So when the call came in asking if I wanted to go to see The New Pornographers, there was no question what the answer was.

Now, I’m as up on my pornography as any other single male with an internet connection, but I hadn’t spent as much time looking into these pornographers as maybe some other purveyors. As we drove to the show, my traveling companion and I tried to make some sense of the group. It is primarily a vehicle for singer/songwriter AC Newman, but of course features indie darling Neko Case. But who is the guy singing with that slight British affect? And Neko’s voice sounds different on some songs….

We arrived in Boston as a Red Sox game was ending, which provided a reminder as to why we sometimes like to stay close to home: $35 parking. And I thought $7 for the Liquid Lounge last week was a bit much. Not to be deterred, we entered into negotiations with the affable attendant, arriving at a more sensible $10 figure. As we started walking to the venue, the streets became more crowded with baseball fans, and while most of the guys sported the entirely expected attire (jeans, Red Sox t-shirts in the standard colors, etc), some of the ladies sported a look that was new to me and can only be described as “Baseball Bimbo”. This look deserves its own post, but suffice it to say, “Scantily clad with neon accents”. Watch out for more on this in a future fashion feature.

After weaving through the increasingly dense throng, we finally made our way inside the club. We found a good-sized crowd with a friendly feel and struck up conversations with various strangers we bumped into.

The band took the stage soon after. Eight people, including 2 keyboardists and a saxophone/cello player. Some of our earlier questions were answered as the band started the first song, Kathryn Calder on keyboards and vocals was that mysterious other woman. Just before the third song, another man with a huge head of unruly black hair sauntered on stage with a beer and picked up a guitar. There was some confusion, and finally a song started. Yes, our other mysterious vocalist was revealed to be Dan Bejar, who we voted as the coolest person in the band; he would walk on every third tune or so with a different drink in hand, and as soon as his song ended he would exit the stage as quickly as possible, presumably for a refill.

I don’t really know much about music, so I’ll leave descriptions and opinions on the set to professional rock journalists. However, you know from previous posts the Scenics are suckers for good on-stage banter. The banter tonight was memorable.

About a third of the way into the show, someone threw a New Pornographers CD onto the stage between songs. Neko Case immediately took up the challenge, informing us she would “personally beat the fucking shit” out of whoever threw said CD. At first I was charmed by her strong protective reaction. These were her band mates, and she wasn’t going to have them threatened by thrown objects. However, after the initial tirade stopped, she started it all over again, proclaiming that she was “a white trash piece of shit” and that she “would fight everyone in this motherfucking room”. The shine started to wear off her act at this point. Granted, throwing things on stage is obnoxious, and potentially dangerous, but this was an audience filled with people wearing dark rimmed glasses and “Hello my name is Inigo Montoya” t-shirts. These are not aggressive fans deserving a beat down. Neko, however was fixated, while the rest of the band fidgeted she unleashed a third and fourth tirade. Finally AC Newman brought things to a merciful end by providing a ying for Neko’s yang “If the person who threw that CD cut me into a million little pieces, each one of them would still say I love you”. While old AC dodged the bullet with that one, he tempted fate soon after by dissing the Red Sox and baseball in general. This tickled my own sensibilities, but in Boston, where baseball passions run hot…

The band got through about 20 songs plus a three-song encore, and was quite an enjoyable show. Outside it was a beautiful night to forget where we parked the car. As we circled the same block 3 times before turning to the GPS equipped phone, I breathed the warm summer air in deeply.


  1. Great post about your New Pornographers adventure!

    My husband actually caught the whole Neko Case vs. CD thrower rant on video She was fierce and I agree, may have gone too far :D

  2. My most nerve wracking trip to that venue was back before it got bought and "remodled" as The House of Blues. Me and the ex went to a punk show on the night of the victory parade for the Red Sox' first World Series win in 86 years. That experience and the fact I use public transit through the city are why I keep rough tabs on Boston sports. It's good to know the nights I want to hit the subway early to avoid the end of the Bruins' attempt at conference championships. Plus those Celtic jerks cost me $0.10 by making it night impossible to cross the street to return a book during their parade.