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Mon Frere, New Pornographers Kick Off Day Two

Up-and-comers Mon Frere (French for “my brother”) can’t yet legally drink, but they’re already rocking like pros. Having won 2004’s Experience Music Project’s Sound Off competition, a battle of the bands contest for groups 21 and under, the band have since become local celebs in Seattle’s indie rock scene.

Singer Nouela Johnston, 20, packs a big voice in the vein of Karen O and the Gossip’s Beth Ditto. Alongside guitarist Kyle Swisher and drummer Dustin McGhie, Johnston manned the keyboards while belting out to a series of almost-gothic, electro-dance rock songs.

The band dove into songs like “Orcs Don’t Knows It” off their Real Vampires EP and tracks from their newest release, Blood, Sweat & Swords, including the tightly arranged and infectious raucous “You Don’t Mind.”

“[This is] great,” said Hangnyo Lee, Johnston’s mother, referring to the turnout for her daughter’s band. As she watched the set earnestly, she added, “they play some big audiences, usually indoors, but they probably didn’t expect such a big crowd.”

Over on the mainstage, the New Pornographers’ A.C. Newman vowed to “keep it clean for Kanye.” The band have played two festivals with hip-hop’s golden boy, but Newman told the audience he has yet to meet him. “We haven’t been within a few thousand feet of him, but we’ve opened for him, so we’ve got that going for us. We’re allowed in the same general area as him and that’s more than we could ever hope for.”

Despite his humble onstage proclamations, the New Pornographers nailed their set with every eccentric lyric and each heavenly melody. And although they played without Neko Case, “The Laws Have Changed,” “July Jones” were as soaring as ever, and Twin Cinema gems “Jackie, Dressed in Cobras” and set-closer “Sing Me Spanish Techno” lulled in even neophyte listeners.

“I came in because they sounded so good — they drew me in!” said Klea Scott, 37. Indeed, the New Pornographers are sure to walk away from Bumbershoot with at least one more fan. TIFFANY WAN


At Bumbershoot ’06, Spin is on the ground with our college correspondent program. Eight college students — four writers, four photographers — earned the opportunity to cover the festival for, live, all weekend long. Sound appealing? Stay tuned to for future opportunities to apply for our college correspondent program!