Thursday, April 17, 2008

Okkervil River / New Pornographers @ 9:30 Club - UPDATE (Neko's 'Illness')

G.H.: 'Twas a gathering of the Rockists Monday night for G.L.'s birthday celebration. Rob and I had labored to arrange for Neko Case herself to blow G.L. a kiss from the stage, but alas she was ill and sat this one out. It was Carl Newman's birthday too, though -- some consolation -- and when the crowd half-heartedly sang to him, the female Rockist fans accompanying us sang loudly to G.L. and he seemed happy. As for the actual show, it was okay. Probably the first time I've had issues with the sound at 9:30 -- it was just too low. At rock shows in rock clubs, you ought to feel a buzz in your chest and it ought to be somewhat difficult to hear the person next to you talking. Both bands lacked this last night. I'll save the detailed stuff about Okkervil frontman Will Sheff for G.L. and Rob, but I didn't think his voice was very strong. Sorta took the melody away. Finally, while I love both the Wrens and "You Can't Hold the Hand of a Rock and Roll Man", Wrens' guitarist Charles Bissell (playing with Okkervil on tour) laid down a lifeless, sad version of the indie rock blues in his solo. But the New Pornographers were pretty good, played a very likeable set. For me, "Testament to Youth in Verse" really got things going with that audience singalong-breakdown "no no no no no". I also thought that ELO cover was pretty sweet -- they actually seemed loosest on that one. How about you all? G.L., how you feeling?

Rob: I think G.L. is still passed out. Can't blame him, though. That was some delicious corn whiskey. I have previously made it known that Okkervil River is not my first choice of bands, and the show solidified that opinion. Will seamlessly combined the whiny wailings of an emo frontman with the bangs of Danny Noriega. They did have a few gems towards the end when they decided to "rock." I especially liked "Our Life is Not a Movie or Maybe," but that is to be expected. I was quite disappointed with the absence of Ms. Case, but keyboardist Kathryn Calder did an amazing job filling in, it's just too bad we could barely hear the music. The sound at the club was extremely muddled. For a band that thrives on harmonies, that was probably the worst problem to have (not to mention the lack of volume). The encores were the highlight of the show, namely the ELO cover and the final song, "The Jessica Numbers," which in Carl's eyes is the "proggiest song" that they have.

Well, looks like G.L. is still hurting, or can't remember the show, or is dead.

G.L.: Drunk, celebrating a (my) birth, and yet still able to gripe over a poor mix and an annoying front man - we're so going to Rockist Heaven. Well, I'm not dead, have for the most part recovered, and surprisingly enough - remember a good portion of the show. Ok, I still love Okkervil River a lot, I think Black Sheep Boy is a brilliant record and The Stage Names is frequently excellent, but they kinda pissed me off Monday night. Either recent success has gone to Will Sheff's head or he's just an immense douche, but holy crap were his emo-affected antics too much for me to handle. The way he would lean into the mic and sweep his hair out of his eyes was seriously killing me. Maybe I'm just old school or something. That said, I thought they played pretty well, despite the aforementioned sound problems. "Black" and "A Stone" were great, as was "Our Life is a Movie". New Pornos were also solid, I thought, though the poor mix hurt them more than Okkervil River. I liked the songs I knew I would like, basically everything they played off of Electric Version. And the ELO cover, natch.

Rob: It turns out Neko fell while she was here in DC and broke her ankle. She is now leaving the tour. Via email:
Hello friends,

We have some very unfortunate news to report. Neko had a really bad fall in Washington DC, which resulted in a fractured ankle, and will be leaving our tour today. She was really trying to be a trooper and stayed on as long as was possible through Richmond and Athens, but it has gotten to the point where she must return home and have her ankle taken care of and to recuperate. She's very upset about having to leave, it's been super fun having her on stage and around the bus.


G. L. Naut said...

ha! now she can't run away from me...

mark said...

Hey DC-metro area - I would like to extend a special 'thank you' for taking down Case before the NP/OR bill slipped through Chicago. I usually hope when I fork over my money to Jam Productions that AT LEAST TWO of the main members will be missing from the headlining band, and I got my wish on Sunday night. Mmmmm maybe next time they can have stand-ins for everyone!