I went into the show last night with no expectations. There haven’t been many shows I’ve been dying to see lately but, with a full week of concerts coming up, I knew I had to get back into the swing of things. The other blog I write for has a never-ending list of upcoming concerts with writers and photographers assigned to each. There was no writer listed for the show last night so, on a whim, I put my name down. Obviously I had heard of The New Pornographers before walking into First Avenue last night but I had never really heard them. I was excited to see what the night would bring so I claimed my spot under the stairs and prepared myself for what was to come.
The show started slow. I mean, really slow. Waxahatchee was the only opener and came in the form of a duo last night with singer/ guitarist and founder Katie Crutchfield standing in the spotlight through the entirety of their forty-five minute set. The music came off as calming and soothing but, for a girl who typically attends rock and metal shows, it was almost enough to put me to sleep. It’s not that it was bad, because it wasn’t. I was instantly lulled to peace by Katie’s voice and her dark lyrics but it just wasn’t what I was in the mood for.
As I mentioned, last night Waxahatchee performed as a duo with just Katie and then a bassist. After doing some research this morning, I came to find out that sometimes Waxahatchee shows up as a full band. This has me intrigued. Although I found the set last night to be a bit too calming for my taste, I heard the talent and saw the potential for a truly moving set. I would love to catch Katie with a full band in the future and see if my intuition is right.
To try and get myself out of the sleepy trance I had been put in, I decided to walk around the venue a little bit and get the blood moving again. As I started wandering and people watching I realized that the crowd was quite a bit older than I was used to at concerts. People weren’t spilling beer everywhere and the mood in the packed venue was more calm than most shows I go to in general. It was truly a nice change of pace and kind of an eye opening experience in a way. It was just so different than what I was used to and I was kind of fascinated in a way. Where was the pushing and shoving? Where were the rude people just elbowing their way to the front? I didn’t want to be rude to the overly nice crowd and I quickly realized that there was no way I was getting back to my spot under the stairs. I felt lost but, hey, this was already a new experience for me so why not stand on the complete other side of the venue than where I typically do.
As soon as I got comfortable with my new surroundings, the screen hiding the stage came up and the crowd erupted with gratitude. I get it, The New Pornographers are a thing. There’s no denying that they have talent and have stood the test of time but they were just one group I never really gave a chance. It’s not that I had anything against them, just wasn’t what I was into and never found myself wanting to get into them. The band didn’t delay and as soon as the eight members took their spots behind their instruments, the set started.
Thankfully, their music was much more upbeat than Waxahatchee and the desire to curl up and take a nap had subsided. Although it was much more up beat and definitely more up my alley (well, compared to Waxahatchee), I still felt like something was missing. There wasn’t that energy that I typically get at metal shows. There was still no pushing or shoving in the crowd but the older crowd still seemed content with what was going on. The audience stood there holding their beers, nodding their heads, and clapping in between songs. It seemed extremely formal compared to the concerts and I still can’t figure out if I loved it or hated it.
Neko Case is one of the many vocalists in The New Pornographers but seems to be the one that truly “took off” in the music world. With a solo career that has been turning heads for years, it seems like she has kind of stepped away from The New Pornographers. Although the band never really stopped touring, there were many tours where they went on without Neko Case but last night the crowd at First Avenue got the full project, Neko Case and all. As soon as Neko finished her first solo line of lyrics in the first song, the crowd erupted in applause. It was obvious that being able to see her with this band was truly and experience and privilege that the older crowd was not going to let slip by.
The New Pornographer’s set was highlighted by bright flashing lights and perfection. The music coming off the stage sounded like it was right off of a recording. Every note had a spot and every vocal harmony was executed beautifully. Honestly, it was a perfect set but I still wanted more. There was very little banter between band members or between the band and crowd. Banter is kind of my thing, it’s what keeps shows feeling fresh and fun but, without the banter, I quickly became bored and wanting more. It was obvious that I was the only one in the audience who felt this way as everyone else was quietly singing along as they nodded their heads and sipped their beers.
Last night was a good show. It just wasn’t for me. It was for a generation that I don’t fall in and a crowd that I just can’t relate to. That being said, being able to experience a show that is completely different than what I usually go to is still better than sitting at home and binge watching CSI.
Venue: First Avenue
Sausage Fest Meter- 4 out of 10
Average Age of the Crowd- 42
Crowd Surfers- 0
Broken Bones- 0
Passed Out People – 0
Celebrity Sightings- 0
Overall Score-3 out of 10
Photo Credit- Markus Akre of Twin Cities Media
Show on Deck- Thursday!/ Touche Amore/ Basement— Yeah, pretty stoked on this one!