Sunday, April 6, 2008

The New Pornographers and Okkervil River at the State Theatre

This post orininally appeared in the April 7 edition of the Tompkins Weekly.

If Neko Case’s January 26 show at the State Theatre didn’t give you enough of her incredible singing or if you just want to see a killer live show, you’re in luck. On April 13, The New Pornographers, featuring Neko Case on Vocals, will be performing at the State Theatre. This is important to note, because as most New Pornographers fans know, Neko Case does not always tour with the band.

Formed in 1997 in Vancouver, BC, The New Pornographers are often described as an indie-supergroup, as all of the members have other musical projects. And just in case you are wondering, leader and main songwriter, AC Newman came up with the band’s name after watching the 1966 Japanese film, The Pornographers. In addition to Newman (Lead Vocals, Guitar), the eight-member band is made up of John Collins (Bass), Dan Bejar (Vocals, Shakers, Guitars, Piano), Kathryn Calder (Vocals, Piano, Wurlitzer), Kurt Dahle (Drums, Percussion), Neko Case (Vocals), and Todd Fancey (Guitars, Banjo, Mandolin). It is this combination of instruments and vocals that makes the band’s music so memorable and worthy of all the accolades they have received, which have been many.

The New Pornographers have recorded four albums, each one gaining them a wider audience and further acclaim. They are currently touring behind 2007’s Challengers. This album was on virtually every best of list for 2007.

What is going to make this an extra special night is Okkervil River opening the show. Founded in 1998 in Austin, the band takes its name from a short story by Russian author Tatyana Tolstaya. The band really first started to make a buzz when it was admitted to play the SXSW Festival in 2000 based on their EP, Stars Too Small To Use. It has been onward and upward since then. To Date they have released four full-length albums. 2007’s The Stage Names is the record that has begun to bring them to a much wider audience. They even have a concert featured on the truly excellent music site from National Public Radio,

Like the 8 piece New Pornographers, Okkervil River is a large band—made up of 7 members playing an eclectic array of instruments, including electronics. The band members are: Will Sheff (Vocals, Guitar), Scott Brackett (Trumpet, Keyboards), Brian Cassidy (Vocals, Electric guitar, Mandolin), Jonathan Meiburg (Vocals, Keyboards, Accordion), Travis Nelsen (Drums), Patrick Pestorius (Electronics). This combination of instruments and strong songwriting makes for some truly magical tunes.

There are times when the pairing of the opening band with the headliner is very awkward. Regardless of the intentions of the band whose name is in the large letters on the marquee to promote an up-in-coming group, the combination of the music does not always work in a macro sense. There is often no connectivity in the musical approach. Not so with The New Pornographers and Okkervil River. The approach to music making and the sonic nature of the two bands should add continuity to the evening that will enhance the experience for the audience. Additionally, it is not often, that two bands of this stature make it to Ithaca, so take this opportunity to see two great bands in your own back yard.

The concert starts at 8 PM and tickets can be purchased at the State Theatre Box office, online at, or by calling 27-STATE.

Also Noteworthy

New York City-based band The Slackers come to Castaways on Thursday April 10. This great band on the Hellcat Records label deftly blends old blues, 60s soul, rock, and R & B as well as reggae, rocksteady, dub, and Ska into a great rockin’ blend that the New York Times called, “The Sound of New York.” These guys have been playing together for a longtime and this is a not-to-be-missed show so you can say I saw The Slackers back when. . . .

Ticket information available at


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