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In concert: New Pornographers at 9:30 club

st-newpornweb9.jpgCanadian indie superheroes? Neko Case and the New Pornographers performed the first of a two-night engagement at the 9:30 club, Tuesday. (All photos by Brandon Wu/FTWP)

By Chris Klimek

Who was it who said that 90 percent of success in life is showing up? Was that Woody Guthrie? Allen Ginsberg? T-Pain? It was somebody smart, and he or she was almost certainly discussing a concert by The New Pornographers, Canada's pop musical Justice League whose legend far eclipses that of any of its individual superheroes (with the eternal exception of the exceptional alt-country chanteuse Neko Case). When the group can field its complete nine-strong roster -- a feat they haven't always managed when playing Our Nation's Capitol -- the results are seldom less then splendid.

(Read the rest of this review and view more photos, after the jump)

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The two-night 9:30 Club stand they kicked off last night was their first since the release of "Together," their characteristically overstuffed fifth album, and the first since Newman told Pitchfork last month that DC is his favorite city to play. It was an utterly unremarkable, perfect-band-attendance NP gig, which is to say, an effervescent hoot. There were few surprises, unless you'd expected to hear more than half the new record. It was just a two-hour, two-dozen song hopscotch through the band's highly infectious songbook, where strong new cuts like "Up in the Dark" and "Crash Years" easily claimed their place among staples like opener "Sing Me Spanish Techno" and the seminal two-fer of "The Slow Descent into Alcoholism" and "Letter to an Occupant" performed during the encore set.

When Newman recalled playing the 9:30 in the mid-90s as an opener for Guided by Voices and contemplating the long odds of ever graduating to headliner status, it was genuinely moving. When he dropped a reference to the 1984 cult sci-fi comedy "The Adventures of Buckaroo Banzai Across the 8th Dimension," it was genuinely baffling to "almost all of you." And when the hard-harmonizing trio of Case, Newman, and Kathryn Calder alighted on one of those widescreen choruses that Newman seems to be able to write while brushing his teeth, you had to imagine that even Dan Bejar -- the group's unsmiling, unspeaking second frontman, who kept himself hidden when he wasn't singing one of his own -- was fighting the urge to sing along.


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By Ally Schweitzer  |  June 23, 2010; 12:20 PM ET
Categories:  In concert  | Tags: New Pornographers  
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Comments

Any idea why Bejar wasn't playing on stage most of the show? Does he always do that? The only thing I could assume was that he was kind of drunk or something. A little uncomfortable

Posted by: ryanhendrixson | June 23, 2010 2:33 PM | Report abuse

Re bejar - its been that way every time I've seen the NPs, he emerges from the wings to sing a song then he goes back. Most of my memories are that he has a microphone in one hand and a beer bottle in another, but maybe that was actually just once.

Posted by: DC20004 | June 23, 2010 8:25 PM | Report abuse

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