Fans got a case of Neko, Sadies

Jason LeRoy

‘Country femme fatale’ delivers great show

New Pornographer Neko Case, about to test her gag reflex, rocked out at the Beachland Saturday

Credit: Andrew popik

Jason LeRoy

Daily Kent Stater 

Pseudo-intellectual hipsters (including yours truly) from miles around wedged themselves into the endearingly quaint Beachland Ballroom this past Saturday to witness the glory and splendor which is fiery haired alt-country femme fatale Neko Case.

Neko Case has been expanding the boundaries of traditional country since the late 1990s, back when alt-country was better (and somewhat humorously) known as cowpunk.

Over the years, however, Case has moved from the ironic up-tempo hoedowns of her first album, The Virginian, to the foreboding country noir of her most recent studio album, 2003’s Blacklisted. She also has moonlighted as the occasional vocalist for the much-loved indie rock band, The New Pornographers.

And so, while Case clearly has a deep reverence for traditional country and the more cinematic stylings of Patsy Cline and Loretta Lynn, she also is not your mother’s big-haired country songbird.

This was made abundantly clear from the onset of the concert, when opening/backing band The Sadies began striking up “Happy Birthday” and Case strutted onstage bearing a birthday cake for harmony vocalist Kelly Hogan, who was celebrating the big 4-0. But where most backing vocalists might blush demurely and politely blow out the candles, the robust Hogan furiously extended two middle fingers at Case, who rapidly approached her screaming, “Eat it, eat it!”

She then handed Hogan a large spoon to aid her in this task, but Hogan instead used the spoon to rap Case in the crotch. Hogan, who appeared to have been hitting the sauce earlier, then slurred, “I’m 40 and I don’t give a shit about nothin’.”

Briefly setting aside their opening tomfoolery, Case and Co. opened their set with the dreamily gorgeous “Favorite,” one of many tracks Case played from her excellent recent live CD, The Tigers Have Spoken. However, the tomfoolery would return shortly enough. For the majority of the set, the musicians were joined onstage by a dog named Auggie. While I could not see the dog from where I was standing, I could usually tell where it was, because Hogan would stare at the dog with an affectionate smile playing about her lips whenever she wasn’t singing.

Case introduced the dog by saying, “Auggie’s been touring for about eleven years longer than that Conor Oberst kid.”

But the Bright Eyes frontman was not the only musician to be attacked by Case over the course of the evening. She also spent approximately 15 minutes verbally disemboweling Bruce Springsteen, alternately calling him “a little troll man” and regaling the audience with seemingly fictitious stories about an imaginary marriage between herself and the Boss.

While the source of her disdain for Springsteen remained somewhat unclear, it seemed to have something to do with (A) the fact that he used to come to her hometown on tour and then trash it, and (B) the fact that he wears his pants really high with his shirt tucked in. “I don’t care how cut you think you are,” Case ranted, “that is just not okay.”

She threatened to launch a similar campaign against Toby Keith, but instead decided to play some more songs.

While the show suffered from minor technical issues — at one point the power cord connected to the venue’s mirrorball broke loose, swinging downward and smacking Case in the ass before moving on to dangle tellingly in front of the stage for the remainder of the show — — the concert was ultimately a wonderfully fun and delicious musical experience.


Contact pop arts reporter Jason LeRoy at [email protected].