Full of tequila is the right way to see The New Pornographers, so that's the way my companions and I did it. Loaded up on margaritas from the shockingly decent-yet-not-overpriced La Verdad next door, it was surprising to arrive at The House of Blues an hour after the doors opened and yet no band had started. A sharp contrast to the last time I was here - to see Motorhead, The Reverend Horton Heat, and Nashville Pussy, where I found that despite being outside in line when doors opened, by the time I got inside (what, 10 mins later?) Nashville Pussy were already mid-set. WTF? Upon reviewing this tale with others, I have found my story is not uncommon.
Early entry meant sitting through the opening bands, the first of which was an ever expanding acoustic outfit, The Dutchess and The Duke. At first, this Seattle outfit's boy/girl/folksy harmonies/acoustic guitar thing came across sweet as sugar. But as the set list wore on, it became evident this band is a one chord pony - good God did they learn any other keys? Tired of hearing what seemed to be nearly the same song played over and over, I finished the 2nd half of their set by attending to a pressing Scrabble game I'd started on my phone vs the computer.
I won (401 to 352 thank you very much) just in time to catch opener #2, Dodos, who unlike their terrible name, were spellbinding. Sporting a velvet-voiced singer with the looks of a twentyish Brandon Cruz (sigh), atop a band that is equal parts Keane, Plus/Minus (+/-), and a bit of Mission of Burma for added angst, it lead me to ask the musical question "Who can argue with a 3-piece where 2 of the 3 are percussionists?" And by the way did I mention that one is often a marimba? Answer: "Not me".
(video gets better halfway through, not much light).
The main event arrived at last, and as I struggled to catch all of the Pornographers in one frame on my wee camera, I realized there are simply way too many people in this band; 9 in all, including Dan Bejar who would periodically appear on stage, then leave, then return with a beer, then leave again... The band sounded excellent, and all would have gone to plan if not for one incredibly strange moment, when just a few songs into the set someone in the crowd lobbed, with considerable force, a New Pornographers CD AT THE BAND.
The CD struck AC Newman's guitar with a loud thump, then clattered to the stage. A showstopper of a moment, it was certainly the only time I've ever been to a 1000 person venue and seen the band assaulted by someone in the crowd. We're not talking the Sex Pistols - we're talking Canadians, people. Fiery haired songstress Neko Case flew into a rage, "What the fuck was that?" she bellowed with the authority of a dominatrix, "Seriously, whoever did that come up here and I will fucking fight you." It was at this moment most of the men in the room realized that although they would definitely like to make out with Case, they would not want her to be their ex-girlfriend. That is unless they like having their tires slashed. "Who did it because I will seriously pummel your fucking face in. I am a piece of shit white trash and I will fuck you up" she continued, and so it went for the next 5-7 minutes - Case indicating she would beat up every person in the room if she needed to, Newman not really knowing what to do or say, the crowd alternately silent, hooting, and a bit scared. The tension in the air was palpable, sort of like one of those old Zorro movies where he threatens the entire Mexican army and all 500 of them back down because - hey, he's Zorro man, you don't fuck with him!
Nobody admitted to the crime, and eventually the show started back up, and the CD was handed out as a gift to someone in the first row. An hour yet to go, but the defining moment of the show had come and gone. Sadly, no video of that below, you'll just have to settle for the rock.