Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Letter from an Occupant

I don't know about anyone else, but I've spent the past two days enjoying some amazing Canadian rock n' roll. Tonight was the Arcade Fire and I'll get to them next time. First up, porno porno porno!

To begin I ask, is there anything finer than fall in Salt Lake City? Some would say "yes," but to them I would counter with "no." It's just beautiful, and at 7pm when the air is crisp and in the deepening blue sky the full moon rises over the glowing orange mountains... wow.

I don't actually have a picture of that, but hopefully my words are enough. Here's a picture of my stairwell. Close.

Many months ago I heard that The New Pornographers were coming to town and playing at a venue called The Depot at the old train station. I flipped at this news. I don't like to use the words "best" or "favorite"... wait actually scratch that. I do like to use those words. In fact I use them way to much. I'm a hyperbole slut. Whatever. The point is, if I had to name one "favorite band" right now it would be the New Pornographers. I bought my ticket right away and I had been so excited for this show.

I'm writing under the assumption that you know who they are, but maybe you don't. They're a Canadian power-pop band made up of musicians that are in other bands or have healthy solo careers. A super group, as the media has dubbed them. I would dare to call them Beatles-esque, but less shimmery and jingle-jangly. I mean they don't really sound like the Beatles, I just make the comparison because they employ a lot of vocal harmony and very layered music... I'm just gonna stop right now. I'm an idiot when it comes to music reviewing. I could go back and delete this whole paragraph but I won't because I strive for truth in all things.

I have seen the NPs once before, at the Austin City Limits Festival last year. Great show but seeing a band play an hour long set in 100 degree heat with the sun in your eyes just isn't quite the full experience, you know? I did run into some of them at the Austin airport so we're totally friends now (not really friends).

I got there early, just after doors opened. There was no one else around and I ended up holding the door open for Carl Newman, the primary singer/guitarist/songwriter. I don't know why but I got all nervous. I was thinking, gotta say something gotta say something! and I said "Hi." in the meekest voice I have ever heard come out of my head. He nods and say "How you doin'?" "Good. Good. Real good."

Hung around on my own for a while trying to pass the time with a few brewed beverages. Finally I ran into an old film school buddy, Colin. Was good to see him. Been a while. Also ran into friends Kylie and Katie. Katie has pictures of me somewhere on her blog. The two Ks share my enthusiasm for the band so that was cool.

The first opening act was The Awkward Stage. What a pleasant surprise these guys turned out to be! I've been listening to their album and enjoying it but the live show really sealed the deal. Very dynamic, tight band which is cool because they've only been together about six months. They're going to start recording their second album soon and I have a feeling it will get some buzz.

Also the singer is George Clooney. See?

Actually he's a fella named Shane and he's really nice. Talked to him (bothered him) for a while after the show and he's a cool guy. I wish him the utmost success.

Another thing I liked about this band was the cute-girl keyboard player. HINT: if you want me to like your band, have a cute-girl keyboard player.

I think we could be friends. She's always taking pictures, I'm always taking pictures. Do the math.

Next up, Lavender Diamond. Interesting sound. The singer, Becky, has a great voice, and she's adorable. After the show I saw her picking up litter. She also helped me meet the NPs. More on that later.

Finally, the New Pornographers! Yay!

I was as happy as a monkey on a rock. The setlist was perfect and they had really brought their A-Game.

Here's the main guy, who would still be waiting outside the building if it wasn't for me.

This is sometime singer/songwriter Dan Bejar, who records on the albums but has never toured with the band before, so it was really cool to have him there. He only hung out on stage during his songs, and always had a beer in his hand. A local beer, which fills me with pride.

Keyboardist Kathryn Calder who sings the "ooh ooh ooh" part on the song "Bleeding Heart Show." That's my favorite part of my favorite song, so I like her. Also, cute-girl keyboard player. By the way, if you don't know the band you might still be familiar with this song from University of Phoenix commercials. "Hey-la, HEY-la, hey-la, He-ey laaaa-la."

The great Neko Case. She can really belt out a tune.

Such a great show. I didn't want it to be over, but I couldn't have asked for anything more. New stuff sounded great, played all the old favorites, tons of energy, funny stage banter. Man. Five stars.

R2-D2 mailbox!

Conversation I had with a homeless guy while standing near the box:

"Can I have a cigarette? Don't smoke? Can I have a dollar? Maybe two dollars? Oh okay, thanks. Can I have a light? Oh right. R2-D2. That's pretty HAHAHAHA that's pretty good. When I saw Star Wars I thought. that. was. it. NO! Then Empire Strikes Back and Return of the Jedi. But but but then! *whoooosh* Naboo? I though, I mean, it was, and then Anakin [gestures as if chopping off arm] that was Anakin! He was just, Darth Vader! He was just little! Anakin. Okay thanks for the dollar take care."

I waited near the tour bus with a couple of other folks for the band to come out. I felt like a dipshit standing there, 27 years old and trying to get autographs, but I don't care. The New Pornographer's Twin Cinema is one of my favorite records of all time and I wanted to get my CD cover autographed (I wish I had the vinyl though). Got the autographs one by one and found the band to be friendly and personable. I mean, it's not like they're super famous or anything, but still. Becky from Lavender Diamond came by and saw what I was doing and went and fetched the remaining members of the band so I could get everyone's signature. That was really cool of her. Neko Case was last and she was pretty funny. Nice to meet her. I got a picture but I'm not gonna post it here.

So I felt like a geek standing there with a sharpie and a CD, but now I have a copy of Twin Cinema signed by the band and I'm so excited about that. I'm gonna get it framed. No I'm not. But I going to display it prominently.

Thanks for reading! I appreciate your indulgence.


  1. hey, you mentioned me! Also, I'ma probably just tell people to come read your blog instead of blogging about it myself. That would be much better.

  2. I'm glad you got pictures because I forgot my camera and so I used my cell phone and those pictures were the worst every photos!

    Anyway, that was such a fun, fun concert.

  3. Sounds like a bitchin' concert!!! I may have to check out these New Pornographers. I've heard you talk about them before...but I'm not familiar with them. You've convinced me...and I share your values when it comes to the cute keyboard players.

  4. That was a great show. From the pictures, it looks like you were by me. I was in front of Neko, first row. I'm trying to figure out what they played for their encore. I know they played "Slow descent", but can't remember anything else. Don't feel like a geek getting your CD signed. I had Kathryn get my LP cover of Twin Cinema signed. Missed Blaine though and Kurt, who wasn;t there. A great show. Awesome posts.

  5. Thanks! Yeah I remember seeing you, I had Kathryn sign my ticket stub when she was cleaning up her stuff on the stage and saw you with your LP and thought "Good idea!"

    Here's the whole setlist:

    All the Things That Go to Make Heaven and Earth

    Use It
    Myriad Harbour
    The Electric Version
    All the Old Showstoppers
    Jackie, Dressed in Cobras
    The Laws Have Changed
    The Spirit of Giving
    My Rights Versus Yours
    Mass Romantic
    Adventures in Solitude
    Testament to Youth in Verse
    Twin Cinema
    Go Places
    Sing Me Spanish Techno
    Bleeding Heart Show


    The Body Says No
    The Slow Descent Into Alcoholism
    Letter from an Occupant