Wednesday, January 13, 2010

People got a lotta nerve...

For one reason or another, I haven't been going to many gigs recently but I was positively giddy at seeing Neko Case last night. And it was almost the perfect evening. Rolled up and got the rock star park out the front of the venue. Got the tip off to arrive early and sauntered in to get front row seats (no seat allocation for some reason). Neko Case puts on an amazing performance and plays the perfect set (all my favourite songs!). Show finishes, a set list is secured (above) and then off for great Vietnamese. All brilliant!!!

But there was one low point of the set. I don't know if it was a function of the gig being part of the Sydney Festival or that it was in a concert hall but in between songs some woman yells out, "Can you turn your amplifiers off?" Lady, amplification allows us to hear the music so what the FUCK are you talking about? Maybe she expected an acoustic set or something but this did not go down well. I think Neko thought it was a statement on the quality of the music and she got well pissed off basically chiding the heckler for a while and looking angry for a few songs until she regained her composure.

I've been to a lot of shows and heard a lot of hecklers - the drunks, the abusive losers and the overzealous fans but that shit was just weird and just kind of dragged what was an amazing performance down for a little while. People?!... words escape me...



  1. Oh dear, looks like Bernard Zuel wasn't very impressed with our Neko:

    I've also heard (from a trusted source) that Grizzly Bear were boring and pretentious. But I think we always suspected as much :)

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  3. Grizzly Bear boring and pretentious? I'M SHOCKED! My god, THEY. SUCK. Bernard went on the first night I think which a lot of people slammed (I went the second night). I had a really good time and thought it sounded great but the problem was the venue, a concert hall. At the end of each song, the audience would clap and then get real quiet like it was a concert recital and I think that just dragged the vibe down - maybe it was just an absence of alcohol, who knows? There was a lot of messing around between songs so that was a fair call but still, a good show I thought. (Jeez, there's no easy way to fix spelling mistakes once they're published).

  4. dude... we need *more* Neko details here... what was the vibe, was she electric (and plugged in) or lotsa solo stuff and her voice, is it a force of nature live and did you just nearly bow down at her feet (in fandom etc)....

    At least she toured your town. She missed Brisbane this time... and I haven't seen her in Oz except on that lame-lame RockWiz show, and she didn't do much on it then...

    And the mix... was the live mix good. And the band. And...

  5. Right, let's have a full run down then. Neko's voice was phenomenal - an instrument of purity and incredible strength - it seemed astounding that such a full, warm and intense sound would come from such a small person (as always with celebrities, I thought she would be really tall). I was front row, right in front of the two guitar players so often my hearing was swamped by their amps - mainly the slide guitar but I thought the mix was pretty solid. The only downside was I didn't think the back up singers vocals were loud enough because the interplay between Neko and the backing harmonies is really strong on the albums, I thought that detracted slightly. She was definitely plugged in and played a normal six string acoustic as well as two four string guitars (one acoustic/one electric - the white and black SG type one she used on rock wiz - I'd be interested to know what the tuning was but I couldn't work it out watching the chords she made). The set list was very heavy Middle Cyclone with a bit of Fox Confessor (the encore of Star Witness was jaw dropping). An amazing version Deep Red Bells was a nice surprise.

    Neko seemed a bit hesitant and almost absent minded between songs (jetlag is the apparent inspiration for Prison Girls but would also explain the low vibe). She was very funny, very sweet until the above comment got her angry - I think the exact tirade was "Turn off the amps? That's the stupidest fucking question I've ever heard! Why don't you go and sit in the fucking bathroom? Maybe it'll sound better there. Maybe it'd sound better if I turned the mic off? This is a Rock show! A soft rock show sure but it's a fucking rock show." or some such thing. Cue applause.

    And yes, I bowed at the feet of Neko and the concert has cemented her place in my pantheon of favourite artists (joining Josh and Bob). And she was wearing Iron Maiden vans and was totally hawt - just saying...

  6. That's better ;-) I always worry about the trade-off of jetlagged performer and crap house sound engineering, and sometimes prefer the recordings to the performance. Or the band's just having an off night. Or the audience is shit.

    Got a similar vibe from seeing Jolie Holland last year in a small Bris venue - she is just so darn hot, and *such* a singer - and yet the performance was flat, subdued, slightly out of place or confused in its bearings. High expectations and the beautiful singer... a demanding male phenom?

  7. I think it might be more to do with the expectations of the audience than gender. I've seen other shows like that, most memorably the Dandy Warhols who seemed too jetlagged (or drug fucked) to focus. They were having a terribly flat show and were put off by a dickhead heckler. They stopped the show, sat in a circle in the middle of the stage and smoked a joint for a few minutes. Then started up again. That was a strange gig.

    One thing that has always stuck in my mind was a reviewer talking about the White Stripes. He said that when Sonic Youth first turned up, socially awkward indie boys would crowd in front of Kim Gordon and kind of leer uncomfortably like she was the perfect woman. The reviewer was talking about how Meg White was inspiring similar trends in their audiences which was really creepy.

    I don't wanna be a creepy indie boy lusting after a pop star! Neko Case is beautiful but my admiration for her is, ahem, strictly gentlemanly.