The New Pornographers
February 27th, 2006 @ Avalon
The New Pornographers played in front of a packed house who eagerly waited
for the headliner, Belle & Sebastian. The Vancouver-based band showed
flashes of brilliance, yet seemed to somehow miss a beat without their
power pop leader, Neko Case. They played most of the Twin Cinema album
lacking effort or emotion. It seemed the band was thinking about their
next gig rather than engaging the crowd.
Several times during the show, the band demonstrated its musical gifts,
with every member contributing vocally and switching instruments
naturally. Kathryn Calder’s did a fine job singing in place of Neko,
especially during “The Bones of an Idol,” sounding so eerie that it
raised neckhairs. Her voice was accompanied by balanced guitars as
Blaine Thurier’s synthesizer and John Collin’s bass popped in the
background. “The Bleeding Heart Snow” proved that this band can blend
together nicely with beautiful vocal harmony between A.C. Newman, Nora
O'Connor, and Calder. Dan Bejar’s raw guitar riffs in “Jessica Numbers,”
along with Kurt Dahle’s powerful drums showed the bands gritty edge. The
melodic vocals in “These are the fables” and acoustic guitar were a
treat. The highlight of the night was when they played, “Use It” where
the band mustered up the energy to rock the subdued crowd.
Several awkward moments persisted between songs, leading to a lack in
continuity throughout the show. The simple guitar and drums during
“Jackie, Dressed in Cobra” and “Sing me Spanish Techno” seemed tiresome.
The band played most of their songs flawlessly as if they were in studio
instead of in front of fans. But for the part, most of the fans came out
to see the main act and were not that familiar with The New
Pornographer’s discography. The band seemed too passive on stage,
lacking the energy needed when fans are not familiar with one’s music.
This carefree attitude seemed to rub some of the crowd the wrong way.
The fact that Neko Case and two other members were not there may explain
why it seemed that there were a few missing components. Maybe Case was
the missing link and the other members concentrated on their instruments
instead of supplementing Case’s aura and transfixing vocals.
Overall the band didn’t seem very excited to open at the Avalon.
Although they formed less than ten years ago, this band has three LPs
and are gaining more exposure on the Indie scene. This talented band has
room to grow but with more tour dates they will be band to keep a close
- Pratik R. Patel