Posted in music | pictures on June 21, 2010

photos by Greg Cristman, words by Rachel Kowal

Terminal 5

The New Pornographers may be considered to be hopelessly passé by some, but for better or worse, they got a fair amount of play during my college radio days, so they are one of those bands that that I look back at fondly - even if their last two or three albums left me feeling somewhat ambivalent.

Founded in 1997, they're veterans of the Canadian indie rock movement. They've seen the industry evolve and shift to accommodate one fad or another, and through it all, they held their ground and continued to churn out expansive power pop medleys year after year. With Carl Newman (A.C. Newman), Neko Case and Dan Bejar (Destroyer) in the mix, The New Pornographers also served as something of a prototype for the modern supergroup.

For Saturday night's show at Terminal 5 (one night after the CD throwing incident in Boston), The New Pornographers focused heavily on their newest album, Together, playing all but three songs from it. But in addition to showcasing the new material, they dipped deeper into their discography and pulled out songs like: "Sing Me Spanish Techno," "Mass Romantic," and "The Electric Version." Their set list for the evening was expansive, but the band talked little between songs and sometimes powered into the next with no more than a brief break for applause. One of the show's major highlights came during the final song of their encore, "Testament to Youth in Verse," when Newman engaged the audience with a slowly building sing-along.

The sound throughout the evening definitely seemed to be too loud - especially with the Dodos. The levels were fine for build-ups and breakdowns, but everything in between suffered. Whenever a song picked up the tempo and increased in volume, the sound started to blend together to create one inchoate mass of energy. Individual guitar riffs became muddled and vocals, indecipherable.

Luckily for Terminal 5, the additional New Pornographers show at the Bell House on Sunday night wasn't announced until after Saturday night's show had already sold out. Given the vastly improved sound quality at the Bell House and its more intimate size and layout, couldn't help but wonder what Sunday night's show (where they promised to do at least ten different songs) was going to be like in comparison (pictures from that one coming soon).

I got to the venue too late to see The Dutchess and the Duke, who like the Dodos, are still on tour with The New Pornographers. More pictures (of all three bands) from the T5 show, and the headliner's setlist, below...

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Dutchess and the Duke....

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The Dodos...

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The New Pornographers...

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The New Pornographers set list
Sing Me Spanish Techno
Up in the Dark
Myriad Harbor
Use It
Crash Years
Jackie, Dressed in Cobras
A Bite Out of My Bed
Adventures in Solitude
[Happy Birthday song to Kathryn, the keyboardist]
Sweet Talk, Sweet Talk
Go Places
All the Old Showstoppers
Jackie
Moves
Your Hands (Together)
Twin Cinema
My Shephard
The Laws Have Changed
Silver Jenny Dollar
Mass Romantic
Bleeding Hearts Show

Encore
Challengers
The Electric Version
Slow Descent into Alcoholism
Testament to Youth In Verse

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Comments (39)

I wish the new pornographers album didnt completely suck! I used to love them.

Posted by blackhat | June 21, 2010 4:13 PM

I know, sounds like adult contemporary.

Posted by Anonymous | June 21, 2010 4:17 PM

For me the show dragged in that middle section with "Go Places", but holy crap, "The Bleeding Heart Show" made me so happy I wanted to cry; it felt like a religious experience should feel.

Posted by Paul G. | June 21, 2010 4:22 PM

Let the idiot bitch-fest begin!

Posted by Sweet | June 21, 2010 4:26 PM

The new album is very good. Most reviews were very good to excellent. Of course you shouldn't believe critics. However you should believe even less in anonymous blog readers with "sucks" comments.

Posted by Anonymous | June 21, 2010 4:26 PM

definitely was too loud

Posted by Anonymous | June 21, 2010 4:37 PM

BEJAR

Posted by Anonymous | June 21, 2010 4:39 PM

agreed on the sound levels, and with most of what 4:26 said. I can't believe it became cool to not like the new pornographers, apparently it is now cool to not like fun.

Posted by Anonymous | June 21, 2010 4:44 PM

Personally, I thought the show was fantastic. Great energy.

Posted by anonymous | June 21, 2010 4:52 PM

The Bell House show was pretty sweet. One of those evenings where the setlist was just a very loose guideline. They seemed awfully tired by the end, though.

Posted by Anonymous | June 21, 2010 4:56 PM

I tried their new album but it's too weird

Posted by Anonymous | June 21, 2010 4:56 PM

The new songs play great live.

Posted by Anonymous | June 21, 2010 5:22 PM

david cross!

Posted by Anonymous | June 21, 2010 5:35 PM

David Cross guy was definitely not happy about being singled out. Either that or he was too high to realize Carl was talking about him.

Also, NP haters are adorable, what with their hating things that are awesome.

Also, "both Carl Newman (A.C. Newman), Neko Case and Dan Bejar (Destroyer)" fails math class.

Posted by Anonymous | June 21, 2010 5:41 PM

It is only not cool to like the New Pornogarphers because they are more popular than ever. But yes let's love another Arcade Fire rip off band instead please.

Posted by Anonymous | June 21, 2010 6:13 PM

i have no idea whats cool and whats uncool as to what to like. does that make me cool or uncool?

Posted by Anonymous | June 21, 2010 6:34 PM

"It is only not cool to like the New Pornogarphers because they are more popular than ever."

Therefore, since they are more popular than ever, no one likes them because they are not cool ...

my brain hurts.

Posted by uncool and unpopular | June 21, 2010 6:44 PM

I'd guess that BV can't be able to pay their writers much, or anything at all, sooooo if the one perk is free concert tix, wouldn't you go see a band you LIKE?

I don't know if we were at the same show, but I couldn't find fault anywhere that night. Passé? Really?! Or have you just become one of those "I hate terminal 5" people.
At least the pictures are awesome.

Die Hipsters! ( which is just German for "the hipsters")

Posted by Anonymous | June 21, 2010 6:54 PM

I, for one, thought the audio at the Bell House was too loud. (I didn't go to the T5 show.)

What happened to Miranda Brown?

Posted by Anonymous | June 21, 2010 7:11 PM

@6:54-

Thanks for the compliment on my photos. I'm glad you enjoyed them.

greg C

Posted by greg C | June 21, 2010 7:12 PM

NP are on the most consistent bands when it comes to their albums. If somebody doesn't like "Together" as much as "Mass Romantic" I get that but I think its impossible to like some and not the others. The same amount of energy and great song writing can be found on all 5 albums

Posted by matt | June 21, 2010 8:42 PM

very overrated band. let go of them. it's ok to not like them. you can still be cool and not like "new pornographers" at same time. they're kind of mediocre, if you haven't noticed all these years.

Posted by Anonymous | June 21, 2010 9:13 PM

"their last two or three albums left me feeling somewhat ambivalent"

Yeesh, if you felt freaking ambivalent about Twin Cinema then I'm really sorry you were forced to see this show/write this recap.

Posted by Anonymous | June 21, 2010 11:27 PM

Re: the above comment...

you picked just a phrase out of a much longer sentence about how the New Pornographers were a formative band for me in college.

Of course I wasn't forced to go to this show. I requested it - though I do wish I had gone to the one at the Bell House instead since it is a smaller space (and it happens to be much closer to where I live). So to clarify, yeah, it was a pretty good show. I don't think the sound was great, and I sort of got the impression that they were just powering through their songs without too much regard for the audience... but it was a good show overall.

Posted by Rachel Kowal | June 22, 2010 12:18 AM

Pretty good show. No regard for the audience.
What? This doesn't even make sense. How could they have had more regard for the audience exactly?

Posted by Anonymous | June 22, 2010 12:32 AM

the new pornos are a polarizing band...

who knew?

Posted by Anonymous | June 22, 2010 1:05 AM

I really like the NP's full catalogue, with Twin Cinema and Challengers as my favorites. I actually think Challengers is their most complete album.

I can't seem to get into Together though. I've listened to it a few times and I was hoping that the show would change my opinion, but I think they've lost a step and become derivative of their own sound. The new album has less changes, the Bejar/Case songs are throw-aways, and none of the songs stay in my head.

Fun show Saturday night. T5 isn't so terrible if you manage to get a spot in the center of the floor.

Posted by Dan | June 22, 2010 8:30 AM

What a terrible write-up. I don't give a RIP about what Rachel Kowal thinks. Passe by some? Who? your friends in the blogosphere? Terminal 5 was totally sold out and everyone was singing along and having a great time. I was so glad I didn't decide to go see Grizzly Bore and Band of Snoozes and instead saw a band with hit after hook-filled hit.

Posted by Anonymous | June 22, 2010 8:46 AM

Rachel Kowal may be considered to be hopelessly passé by some, but for better or worse, she got a fair amount of play during her college radio days.

Posted by Anonymous | June 22, 2010 8:49 AM

i'd like to hear some of these hits and hooks-sounds exciting wow

Posted by Anonymous | June 22, 2010 9:19 AM

Rachel, get a job. This isn't for you.

Posted by Anonymous | June 22, 2010 9:59 AM

I have such an opposite reaction to the New Pornos catalog. I was never entirely convinced about them UNTIL "Together," which I think is pretty incredible.

Posted by Anonymous | June 22, 2010 10:04 AM

Anon 10:04. What is it about "Together" that grabs you?

I'm not hearing anything on that album that compares to a song as great as "The Bleeding Heart Show," or "The Laws Have Changed." Neko is mostly relegated to a background singer on "Together" and none of her featured songs compare to "Bones of an Idol." The Bejar songs aren't nearly as interesting as his previous work with the NP's.

Your turn...

Posted by Dan | June 22, 2010 10:44 AM

i made out with david cross at the show!

Posted by Anonymous | June 22, 2010 11:17 AM

The bell house was a little on the loud side, but it either settled in and got quieter , or my ears got used to it after a few songs. That's a lotta people making noise on a stage that size.

Posted by Anonymous | June 22, 2010 12:55 PM

terminal 5 sounds bad?
when?

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MqsLePI4XO8\

Posted by Anonymous | June 22, 2010 8:50 PM

all i know is, neko looks hot. and also, bejar rules

Posted by Anonymous | June 23, 2010 3:18 AM

@7:11 - FWIW, Miranda Brown was only with the band for the Europe tour...though I think she'll probably play with them in Austin?

Posted by Anonymous | June 24, 2010 7:08 AM

too me, it was neko and behar's vocals that stood (pun ahead) head and shoulders above all else at these shows.

Posted by Anonymous | June 25, 2010 1:54 AM

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