Review: The New Pornographers and Waxahatchee at First Avenue – Minneapolis, MN. April 18, 2017

Published by JB on April 19, 2017

Death, Taxes and The New Pornographers

I’ve always placed Jenny Lewis and Neko Case side by side as not only the greatest women of indie rock, but they’re part of that tiny group of the best of indie rock.  Period.   Their sex is immaterial.   They’re both outspoken, freakishly talented and continue to release new material that compares with the finest of their highly esteemed catalog.   They can almost do no wrong.   After a couple years of Jenny Lewis Minneapolis stops, it was now time for Neko.

Moving around Minneapolis’s venerable First Avenue venue from side to side during the New Pornographers show was more out of necessity.   With the place being 98% sold-out (1700 or so patrons) any photographer is treated like patron #1701 after shooting the opening three tracks.  You’re sent to the back of the line and you have to earn any sight line the hard way for the next 90 minutes.    My first-time observations of the band were that I love A.C. Newman when he speaks, and I wish Neko Case would speak more.  In fact, that was one of the night’s minor disappointments as the band ran through a galloping collection of greatest hits – in mostly workmanlike, undramatic fashion.

The 8-piece onstage ensemble seemed a little cramped onstage, reminding me of watching Broken Social Scene over a decade ago as they fought for their own spots on what is actually a huge stage for a venue of this size.   The band provided a by the basics color-by-numbers run through of their best.   No crazy light show, no frenetic dancing, no stage diving and no high fiving with the front row rail grabbers in between songs.

Newman and Case are the stalwarts.   Case’s voice is the underlying secret weapon of the band, providing the splash of gasoline to the burgeoning fire that Newman creates.   Together they create nothing short of a Nicks/Buckingham type of visceral beauty.   If I had any chance to raise my hand and talk with them it would be to make their albums a little more dynamic against one another.   Given that, they’re as dependable as any duo we have in indie rock.    New tracks such as the beautiful ‘Play Money’ fit like a glove next to New Pornographer catalog crowd favorites like ‘Sing Me Spanish Techno’.

Case and Newman have already established their eternal legacy into our indie love affair.   They’re just padding the distance between them and any newcomers at this point.   Show offs.







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