Muzak 25 Jun 2006 12:32 am

Neko Case Performance

Tonight, I got to see Neko Case perform at the Rio theatre in Santa Cruz. She is touring for her new album, “The Fox Confessor Brings the Flood”.

The opening band, Sonny Smith, was great. He tells really dramatic stories with interesting characters in his songs. The music is mostly good appropriate accompaniment to his lyrics. The songs were all quite eccentric, from killing a man for the love of a woman on the street, to the upset of his lover leaving for another man.

So, then after resetting the stage, Neko Case, came on. She delivered, and then she delivered some more. The encore was probably another 30 minutes of songs. The sound was mixed flawlessly, and from where I sat, and then stood, everything came across balanced and clear. If you get a chance to see her, GO.

Her song style is plaintive and sad, but she delivers it with a beautiful, strong voice silhouetted with reverb. It haunts you for days afterwards.

The songs deal with painful subjects – loneliness, loss, feelings of insecurity, a sense that the world is burning. She delivers it with that voice though, and her talented band supports everything as it should be. The arrangements were often country or 50’s ballads, but most carried a punk dissonance in the twang. Some were grungy and dissonant entirely. The steel guitar/banjo player played soulfully and articulately. The guitarist gave beautiful fills that echoed and complemented Neko’s voice.

The accompanying singer had a sweet voice as well, and a great smartass repartee with the crowd. Whenever she sang though that all fell away and her face was serious as she watched Neko and sang with her. She also sang on some of Sonny Smith’s tunes. The whole band was laid back in their demeanor, but watched and played with each other in great time. It was actually enjoyable to see them work so well together.

It’s somewhat surprising that most of the songs stuck to their standard length. Not a lot of improvisation from what I could tell, but that was just fine. The through-composed songs, and their heartfelt, heart-yanking delivery were each perfect little gifts. In between songs, the members of the band improvised amusing little stories on topics such as Frito casseroles, how boring they, as people, were, and how much they loved Santa Cruz compared to say, San Diego. Neko Case, had a great self-deprecating demeanor, but was completely focused and sincere when singing. It was more like we were sitting in their living room, watching them play through their songs. You can hear a sample of their witty banter on their website, here

Overall, this show was better than I could’ve imagined. It takes real talent to make you smile at the beauty of the moment, even when, no, actually because you are hearing painful, sad thoughts.

UPDATE: You can see some live footage from this tour at the steel guitar player, Jon Rauhouse’s web site, here.

One Response to “Neko Case Performance”

  1. on 27 Jun 2006 at 10:35 am 1.Andrew Chase said …

    Bob, dude!, I’m so jealous you got to go to that show! I wanted to go, but had to be out of town that weekend. Neko Case is great, it’s funny how so many software people seem to share the same taste in music…


    p.s. still no SVP for me, our robot is going in the water tomorrow, so I’m totally slammed.

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