Reviews \

New Pornographers Brighten Up a Rainy Day

NEW YORK: Cheery Canadians celebrate our independence with a lively set.

Mother nature may not have been in the mood to host an outdoor Fourth of July show, but that didn’t matter much to the NYC concertgoers out to catch free sets from Midlake and the New Pornographers yesterday (July 4). A mish mash of people crowded into lower Manhattan’s Battery Park — parents with babies in tow; older couples out for a day in the park; and various clans of students, hippies, and city types.

Denton, Texas’ ambient folk-rockers Midlake got things started around 3:30, and the soft drawl of lead singer Tim Smith perfectly matched the melancholy weather. Other than a dedicated crowd up front, most lounged on the grass, zoning out to the thick harmonies of “Van Occupanther,” “Bandits” and “Roscoe.” Carl Newman and co. arrived onstage at 5 P.M. Eternally sunny, even though the skies were not, the Vancouver-based collective ripped through cheery numbers such as “All the Things That Go to Make Heaven and Earth,” “Use It” and “The Laws Have Changed.” New album Challengers (out Aug. 21 via Matador) provided a good chunk of the setlist — “Challengers” and “My Rights Versus Yours” demonstrated the toned down attitude of the new album, and beautifully showcased Case’s voice.

Ever the jokester, Newman ribbed the audience when they sang along to newbie “All the Old Showstoppers.” “How could you possibly know the words to this?” he bellowed. “Security!” It was drizzling by crowd favorite “Mass Romantic,” but most stuck around for the encore. After professing his thanks to the more-than-a-little-damp folks sticking it out, Newman smiled, and ensured, “We’ll be back, and we’ll play inside, I promise.” ROBIN MONHEIT / PHOTOS BY SHAWNA ADAMS

We asked: It’s Independence Day. From what do you want to declare your independence?