Live Review: The New Pornographers, The Dodos, The Dutchess & the Duke at The Variety Playhouse, June 26
By Micah McLain
The New Pornographers make the kind of blissful, energetic indie pop that is impossible to resist. The Canadian supergroup features Carl Newman, Neko Case and Destroyer’s Daniel Bejar and has only gotten stronger with each of five LPs released over the last 10 years. For this leg of their Together tour, the Pornographer’s brought along two great up-and-coming bands as openers. Although Seattle’s The Dutchess & the Duke played to a modest crowd thanks to the early slot, their ’60s-influenced guitar pop definitely impressed those fortunate enough to witness the performance. With a surprisingly aggressive live show, The Dodos’ percussion-based, xylophone-tinged, lo-fi rock displayed a band that is steadily gaining creative confidence.
The New Pornographers fan base has grown exponentially as a result of the band’s consistently fun live shows as well as the success of its individual member’s solo efforts. Upon taking the stage in front of the sold-out crowd, the group launched straight into Twin Cinema standout “Sing Me Spanish Techno” and didn’t let up for the next two hours. Although Newman is the de facto leader of the band, Case and Bejar definitely command the most attention, if only because they aren’t as heavily featured. They both seem to enjoy ceding the spotlight to Newman as Case looks like she jumped straight out of bed and into the spotlight while Bejar has the freedom to seemingly wander on and off the stage depending on whether he feels needed or not.
In addition to the comedic banter between songs that Newman and Case have become known for, the band played a set full of fan favorites spanning their entire catalog. Case showcased the majestic voice that has made her one of the most popular females in alt-country on Together’s “My Shepherd” with the powerful line “If I’m honest you come to mind, but baby I’m not.” Bejar took the lead for several of his self-penned contributions, allowing his laid-back writing style and super-casual lyrical delivery to carry songs including the newly-released “Silver Jenny Dollar” and the now classic “Myriad Harbour.” After an initial set that contained no less than 20 songs, the band took a short break before returning to the stage for their encore. Saving some of their most joyous and crowd-pleasing songs for last, the New Pornographers led everyone in attendance through the sing-along choruses of “Testament to Youth in Verse” and “Bleeding Heart Show,” leaving the stage as the crowd echoed the refrain of the latter’s “hey la hey la.”