Monday, August 11, 2008

The bleeding heart show

Another review up on Phawker, of the New Pornographers and Andrew Bird at the Electric Factory on Saturday, August 9. (Bird was the opening act, but listing them in performance order makes it sound like the New Pornographers are Bird's backing band, a la Paul Revere and the Raiders, Stephen Malkmus and the Jicks, etc.)

Extra stuff that didn't make it in:

-Though Kathryn Calder has the unenviable task of replacing the luminous Neko Case on harmony vocals, she performed admirably.

-Calder also played tambourine on a few songs and, at one point, went to fetch the instrument from the drum riser a full two songs before she would actually need it. Preparedness might not seem very rock-and-roll, but something about the clean (but not antiseptic), tight and somewhat-remote nature of the New Pornographers songs seems to demand that kind of advance planning.

-The tuxedoed mannequin that joined the Pornographers on stage during their encore seems to be a replica of someone famous, but I couldn't place whom. Can anyone help me? Also, a mannequin of John Wayne joined them during "From Blown Speakers" to somewhat less riotous applause than the first statue received.

-Though I was only intermittently thrilled by Andrew Bird's performance - too many technical snags, and too many sample-dumping pileups - I'd love to see him try his hand at leading a chamber orchestra, or maybe even composing something more akin to "concert music" for one. Maybe the St. Paul Chamber Orchestra, which has an outstanding, though recent, tradition of taking on "artistic partners"? Or maybe the always forward-thinking Brooklyn Academy of Music, which took a risk in commissioning a piece from indie-rock savant Sufjan Stevens, a musical polymath like Bird - a risk that paid off in a big way.

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