October 18, 2014

The New Pornographers at the Commodore Ballroom

Jeem might not have been the oldest person at The New Pornographers concert last Saturday night, especially if we're calculating his age in dog years. It was, I suppose, a slightly more mature audience in attendance at the venerable Commodore Ballroom that night to hear a slightly more mature band.

The afternoon began for Sherry y Jeem with a VIFF movie, probably one of the lesser lights in our strange movie-going process, then a simple walk down the Granville strip to be greeted by an unfriendly bouncer. "No ins and outs and no smoking. Sir." Ins and outs? You mean I am to be locked in this place all night without any hope of fresh air? Or a smoke? Not that I want to smoke of course, but that's not relevant to you, bouncer Brutus. Well. In hindsight, that might not have been the right thing to say to my burly friend on steroids.

Anyway. Once finally allowed into the Commodore, after many promises to behave, at least on Jeem's behalf, we found a table of sorts and a server who offered us wine for $7.50 a glass or two for $15. Somehow the incentive for two didn't seem all that great so we ordered two glasses. And then two more. This might have continued into the night, I don't remember.

Nearby, patrons were busy looking at their phones (some for much of the night it appeared to me) and taking selfies. Why come to concert with a group of friends if all of you are going to spend much of the time looking at your screens? I even noticed one young concert goer with ear buds in his ears for much of the concert. How does that work I wonder?

The New Pornographers, based in Vancouver, have been together since 1999, or even earlier depending on your source. They have achieved significant artistic recognition and some commercial success. Sometimes compared to Arcade Fire, their music is often complex in melody and texture, featuring intricate vocals especially from Neko Case. It's a thinking band and a super group of sorts, though never having quite achieved the commercial success they truly deserve.

The Commodore Ballroom, with no ins and outs mind you, is a fine venue. It can accommodate about 900, maybe more, and most will be standing for hours on end. No ins and outs after all. There were two warm-up bands, one local and one from the Excited States. The latter, Pains of Being Pure at Heart, was actually quite good indeed. Finally, the Pornographers took the stage at 10:30p. Jeem had been yawning for two hours and the "special" on two glasses of wine wasn't helping, nor the no ins and outs policy. Not that Jeem had any reason to go in and out of course.

One hundred minutes later, after the obligatory encore, the show was over. The concert was good. Sound quality at live events is always an issue for me; sometimes a CD offers much more.

Our crowd of fellow travellers, ran the gauntlet of bouncers again, this time as they directed people out of the building, stumbled into the early morning hours of the Granville mall. My bouncer friend Brutus took one look at me and Sherry, smiled and said "Get home safe you guys." We took the SkyTrain.

Photos by Jim Murray (except exterior of Commodore and band logo). Copyright 2014.

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