Sunday, June 26, 2005


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So this past Saturday i saw the New Pornographers in Brooklyn w/ Erin. Now, the show was great - they played a good ammount of new songs, and covered a lot of their first 2 albums as well (highlight by far: "Testament to Youth in Verse"). However, something about the show really really bugged me, and it's had me thinking ever since they started until now.

To fully understand the thought process, you must first know a little bit about the New Pornographers. They are a sort of indie rock supergroup. Fronted mainly by former Zumpano member A.C. (Carl) Newman, the group also features Destroyer's Dan Bejar, solo sensation (and #1 on Brian's 'Celebrities I'd Cheat On My Lady With' list) Neko Case, as well as members of lots of other Canada-based bands.

For this show, neither Bejar nor Case were present. This can be understood, as both have other projects/schedules, however it is still somewhat disarming. The show was advertised as the New Pornographers - and to a certain degree it was: John Collins, Kurt Dahle, Blaine Thurier, and Todd Fancy were there with Newman. But when it came time to play "Jackie," a Bejar tune, Dahle sang it. Newman also sang Bejar's "Testament to Youth in Verse." Now, this to me is quasi-acceptable, b/c they are active members of the band handling the songs.

However, Case's parts were sung by newest member Kathryn Calder. Not only her parts, but also her 3 'showcase songs' on the first two records, "Mass Romantic," "Letter From an Occupant" and "All For Swinging You Around." Now, Calder sang the songs fine, as well as i'm sure she could. But none of the scab singers could replace the vocals on the records by Bejar and Case, which begs the question: Was i duped that night?

Is it better to have seen 'The New Pornographers' on the Celebrate Brooklyn website or for them to have advertised it as "Most of the New Pornographers?" I still would have gone and seen the show, even if it was a Newman solo show. Or is it better that i got to hear all those great songs in a live context, even if it wasn't really the band playing them? As i said before, the best song of the night was "Testament to Youth in Verse" and that was one of the songs not sung by its intended vocalist.

Back in the mid-1960s, Brian Wilson stopped touring as a member of the Beach Boys and instead worked on writing/arranging/recording their music and then letting the other guys sing their parts whenever the tours would end. Did my dad feel the same way when he saw the Beach Boys in the early 70s? Did Dad feel that it was blasphemous to hear someone else sing the falsetto part on "I Get Around?" I called and asked, and here is what he said: "I always felt cheated when Bruce Johnston sang Brian Wilson's parts. Every time. But i knew what i was getting - by that point Brian Wilson had stopped touring with them for a few years and it was well known." However, when i asked him if he had wished they didn't play songs sung by Brian Wilson, he said "No - I'd rather hear someone else sing it with the band than not hear it at all."

So, Dad and i were on the same page. But we take our music pretty seriously (and our film, baseball, cooking and politics), so was this just a nerd thing, or did people who weren't so obsessive with their arts similar in their feelings?

I decided to call someone who enjoys music that i don't - teen-pop. I called one of my resident Rant fans and also a fan of choreographed dance moves along with songs sung by borderline straight men with headset mics, Eileen Nagle. I presented her with a similar scenario - she goes to see NSync, and JC Chasez (the member she said sings the most non-Timberlake songs) was not there. Now, with a group as popular/money making as NSync, this probably wouldn't happen (and despite the claims some who read this might make, they ain't a supergroup), plus with the internet being what it is, i'm sure Eileen would have heard about it by the time she approached the show. I, on the other hand, did not hear because it was such a short tour, and because i was away for most of the week before the show, so i didn't really poke around their message board to see who was actually playing with the band. Also, the missing of one of their members on tour is not big enough news to make Rolling Stone.

But anyway, Eileen was surprisingly the most ardent on the points that a) you should get who you paid to see and that b) unless the songs are changed to be dramatically different without the missing member, they should not be played. When asked if she'd want another member to sing them, she said "Well, I'd rather Justin [Timberlake] sing it over some nobody, yeah, but only if they changed it around." So just playing the song with the replacement singer singing it would piss you off? "Oh, yeah."

For once, i am actually the most leniant on something! Like i said before, i would have much prefered to hear Case or Bejar sing their songs, but given the circumstances, i think i would have felt more jipped by the whole experience if i hadn't heard any of those songs. I suppose my whole problem with it is the billing: Are they still The New Pornographers without two of their key members? Bejar is sort of expected to not be there, as he usually doesn't tour with them, but Case's voice is all over these records, on just about every song they ever recorded. And if you go to the NP's website, unless you dig into the message board, you would have no idea that Ms. Case would not be present. In the photo gallery there are "new 2005 pictures (one of which is posted up top)" of the band that feature Neko Case, and nowhere to be found is this new lassy, Ms. Calder. Which leads me to believe that she is a touring replacement, and therefore, somewhere on the main website it should say so, correct?

However unhappy i was, i'm going to see them again (I hope) at Webster Hall in December - Destroyer is opening so i assume Bejar is going to be there, and if Case is there, well, i might have to bring a clean pair of shorts.


At 8:17 PM, Blogger Erin said...

JC Chasez not sing at an Nsync show...blasphemy!
Maybe we can blame this on Menudo who made it okay that no one person is important in a group there is just the name that is Menudo.

At 9:52 PM, Blogger Erin said...

PS I like the interviews with your dad and creed

At 5:24 PM, Blogger Eileen said...

I knew Erin would be upset by that, it would be tragic if it happened.

I really enjoy the first line of the paragraph of the interview with me. It just sums up me and my interests very well.

At 8:52 AM, Blogger salvatore7117 said...


At 8:52 AM, Blogger salvatore7117 said...

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