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More Fun Than a Psychedelic School Bus

By: Raechel M. SimsThe New Pornographers
Bowery Ballroom
New York
July 11

By the time the New Pornographers hit the stage–following one no-show by I Am Spoonbender and a painfully stoic performance by The Organ–the musically deprived crowd welcomed them with a reception worthy of greeting a long-lost sibling. Perhaps that analogy isn’t far off the mark, considering the familial vibe the six-member super-group gives off: vocalist Neko Case playing the passionate yet calm matriarch, singer/guitarist Carl Newman the wise yet approachable father figure, and Kurt Dahle as Danny Bonaduce, the lovable younger brother, curls and drumsticks flying from behind his kit. Fortunately for those in attendance (and music aficionados everywhere), the New Pornographers rock a helluva lot harder than the Partridge Family.

After some initial tuning problems on their opening song, “The Electric Version,” Newman excused the faux pas: “That song was by us. We’re the New Pornographers. We play music,” he said with a smarmy wink. But the offhand comment seemed to help focus the band, as what followed was nothing short of stunning. With three decades of combined experience under their belt, every Pornographers song went off like a surefire favorite, fans supplying a drunken back-up chorus–thanks to the three separate bars within the venue–singing along to every word and pumping their fists in the air (and that was just the Spin staff). In-between perennial favorites “Testament to Youth in Verse” and “Miss Teen Word Power,” the Pornographers took a moment to pay homage to their homeland of Vancouver, Canada, where “we can smoke pot, say Henry Rollins sucks, and rock!”

After a full set and three solid encores, the Pornographers reminded their still-screaming fans, “We’ll be here tomorrow night, too!” Judging from the crowd’s enthusiasm, it’s safe to say that most of them will probably ante up, returning for another night of gettin’ happy with their favorite rock’n’roll family.