Show Review: New Pornographers @ Stubbs (7/23)

We all set out to brave a warm evening in Austin, looking forward to catching the greatness that is the New Pornographers.  Accompanying the band on this summer night was Imaad Wasif and The Dodos.  While we were excited to see all the bands, it was clear that everyone’s anticipation was geared towards the Canadian outfit.  Follow the jump for more.

Imaad Wasif began the evening just around 8, bringing their blend of heavy rooted folk rock to the stage at Stubbs.  Their energy was fitting with the music, that definitely took on more dark rooted tones than either of the bands left remaining on the bill.  It sort of left the impression of watching a sludgy Dead Meadow do folk songs for a nice thirty minutes.  Not a bad way to begin the evening.

The Dodos took to the stage five minutes late, just as they would leave the stage five minutes early.  They provided the audience with several tunes from both Visiter and Time to Die, such as “Fools”, which led to the closer “Fables”.  Now that the band are a solid three piece, at least in the live setting, one would expect great things from the trio, but they were rather unimpressionable.  As the intricate guitar pieces came about, they struggled to maintain a similar level of energy to coincide with the tunes.  Personally, I felt a bit jilted that they came on late and left early.  Sure, they are an opening band, but they’ve done their time the last few years, and probably should have given the fans in attendance a bit more.  Instead of bringing the throbbing power of their music, they came off as just another traveling band trying to eek out a living on the road.

Salivating, every single person in attendance, which grew more crowded as the set time neared, seemed to wait on pins and needles, expecting really big things from the rest of the evening.  With that in mind, I offer my single point of disappointment on the night, that being AC Newman’s tiny voice.  He’s got such a great tone that works with both his solo work and New Pornographers, but combined with three, and sometimes four, other voices, he seemed dwarfed vocally.  This, however, was probably the only complaint I could muster, as I can’t blame the band for the sweat that ran down my back that evening.

Flashing lights geared us up, and then “Sing Me Spanish Techno” kicked in.  They had a bounce, and they had an astonishing presence for a band that doesn’t seem to move about very often.  They were all over the place, bouncing back and forth between albums, giving us every possible catchy tune we could have asked for during their set, and for our part, we bounced along with them.  Apparently, they secret weapon of the Canadian posse is Dan Bejar.  He sand such hits as “Jackie, Dressed in Cobras” and “Silver Dollar Jenny,” but often left the stage.  His voice is a great counterpoint to the rest of the group, as he has a distinctive tone that goes above the rest of the vocals.  While I wish he had something more to do when not playing, it’s great to see him upon the stage, winning over the fans. And of course you had the lovely ladies of the group, looking good as usual.  Surely I’ll catch flack for not being on the Neko wagon, but I’m way more of a Kathryn Calder sort of guy.  They also included Austinite Miranda on the evening, adding further depth to the show’s vocals.

The winner of the evening was Austin music fans.  Let’s face it, we’re a fickle bunch, but as the heat continued beyond dusk, everyone was still wrapped up in the great melodies from The New Pornographers.  It says a lot about a band that they can keep the attention of hordes of sweaty fans for well over an hour, and it says a lot about the fans that they were willing to stay for the duration.  I guess this is the dedication owed to the band for years of hard work and continuously solid listens.  Thanks again guys, you can’t visit us enough!

Many thanks again to Mary Rehak for the pictures. You can visit her on Flickr.


  • I have a feeling the reason Newman’s voice sounded dwarfed was because his mic was barely on. Until almost 2/3rds of the way through, it was perhaps the worst mix I’ve ever heard at Stubb’s. There were two keyboards on stage and I could hear zero of them.

    I *love* this band, and I almost walked out. To be fair, with what, 9 people on stage it’s not easy to get the mix right, but I thought it put a major damper on the night. You could tell the band was distracted, too.

  • I agree Adam, I mean, but what are you going to do with four, sometimes five, vocals in the front mix? I still had a good time though, and will always be willing to watch Dan Bejar live. Still, if that band could ever figure out how to pull it off live, as they do on record, they’d be incredible.

  • Yeah, who can stay upset when Dan Bejar’s on stage? I totally expected Neko Case to steal the show, but it was no contest when he took the mic.

  • That Miranda was Miranda Brown, of Crooked Fingers (and Til We’re Blue or Destroy, incidentally)

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