BEING THERE: The New Pornographers @ UT



Ten minutes before arriving at Union Transfer to see the New Pornographers, I was dumped. Denied. Kicked to the curb. Or whatever you want to call it. Not to worry, “we can still be friends” I was told. Great. That’s just great. Having taken a crash course in the New Pornographers greatest hits and misses shortly before my arrival, I knew the show was going to feel like getting slapped upside the head with a happy stick. Great. That’s just great.

But enough of me feeling sorry for myself, there were more important things to worry about, like finding parking that wouldn’t set me back a week’s non-existent wages, and getting from my car to the venue un-victimized. Unfortunately, the only spot I could find was under a dark and dangerous-looking bridge on Hamilton Street, where shady-looking men that I’m guessing weren’t New Pornographers fans paced up and down the sidewalk. It was pitch black and terrifying and most likely filled with registered sex offenders, but the price was right. I got out of my car, slammed and locked the doors in one fluid motion as I ran off to the venue like a screaming banshee.

I got my ticket and photo pass at WILL CALL and walked inside. It was only 8:15. Somewhat distracted by my newly-minted single status and the near-death experience under the bridge, I wasn’t thinking clearly, and the backdrop of the band onstage was clearly the album art from the new New Pornographer’s album, Brill Bruisers. Oh no! They’re already on! In a panic, I pieced my DSLR together in the dark, weaving through the dad-aged crowd, leaving a zig-zag trail of dirty looks and spilled beers in my wake. When I made it to the photo pit, I asked the security guard about letting me through. Or I tried to — I’m sick right now, and my voice sounds like a little boy going through puberty. (Ordinarily I sound like a medium-sized boy going through puberty.) The security hunk said, “Sorry, photo pit’s open for the first 3 songs only, this is, like, the fifth.”


I was already thinking up excuses to tell to tell the boss why I didn’t get a New Porno pic — sudden Leukemia, lightning strike, fuckin’ Obamacare — when I looked at the band, and realized that I was the biggest idiot in the room. The New Pornographers weren’t even onstage yet, this was Pains Of Being 80s Retro, I mean Pure Of Heart, aka the opening act. Facepalm. That gave me just enough time to let the last 30 minutes of my life sink in. So I let my hair fall over my face and let a few overwhelmed-girl-tears fall, just for a second. Then I manned the fuck up. I had a job to do and I’m not gonna let some jerky ex-sorta-BF or the registered sex offenders lurking under the bridge bring me down.

When the New Pornographers set finally commenced, everything was a little bit brighter. In addition to the backdrop being properly lit, two keyboards placed at the front of the stage lit up in flashing colors to the frenetic beat of the music. Very Josie & The Pussycats. Everyone loved it, but I couldn’t get happy. Even the people in wheelchairs were dancing harder than me. I could feel the dirty looks I was getting for standing still, but I didn’t really care. Nobody knew the trouble I’d seen.

It wasn’t until about four or five songs in that Carl Newman finally addressed the sold-out crowd. “We’re the New Pornographers. You know when you’re rocking so hard and you don’t want anyone to talk to you because it’s so fucking intense? That’s all of us right now.” Who knew the people who sang songs with titles like “Testament To Youth In Verse” and “Miss Teen Word Power” could be such rock n’ roll animals?

It felt good somewhere down deep inside to hang out for a while in their warm wigwam of super-catchy, uber-melodic, sunshine-day power-pop. That’s when I had my epiphany: The New Pornographer’s music is not just the perfect soundtrack to life’s happiest hip-hip-hooray! moments, it is also the perfect sonic antidote to life’s nastiest shit storms — either way it makes you smile at the wonderful, beautiful, ridiculousness of it all. That’s a gift I will not be returning any time soon, and not just because I don’t have a receipt. — MARY LYNN DOMINGUEZ