By: Hilary Johnston August 22nd, 2013
The New Pornographers, (sans Neko Case), emphatically took the stage last Saturday and reminded indie fans why they found themselves at a venue as kitsch as The Ex. With the sounds of contaminated cronut artery clogging and Whack-A Mole still distantly audible, the gang covered favourites from all corners of their catalogue. Despite a few stumbles in the first half of the set – a guitar string break and a cable replacement (one Pornographer joked, “Did anyone bring a guitar to the CNE?”), a lyric flub and a set list kerfuffle – the performance remained sparkly.
Dan Bejar sauntered on stage as summoned, bringing with him a slightly wacky presence that was balanced out by Catherine Calder’s perpetual sweetness. AC Newman hung out between the two, offering clumsily dry between-song banter while the remaining Pornos provided a cushy backdrop. Their whole performance was lovably casual, like that cozy shirt you still wear even though it has a few holes in it. By the time they reached the end of the set, all of the best things about The New Pornographers came out to play. The group’s knack for weaving fluid melodies through as many vocal lines as possible was beautifully evident on “Testament to Youth in Verse”, while “Bleeding Heart Show” rocked enough to make llamas in the building next-door dance (or so I was told).
My summer craving for indie power pop has officially been satisfied and, after “Twin Cinema” was chosen as an encore, I know the guy screaming out his request from way in the back feels the same way. The crowd filtered back into the midway madness; not a frown in sight.