I’m not going to write about the concert as much as I wrote about socializing while I was there, in part because now it’s almost 2 in the morning and I’ve got to be up at 6:30. However, I will say they were fantastic, and loud, and energetic. They opened the night with songs off of Electric Version which is still my favorite of theirs, and they continued to play a lot of songs from that album. I’d expected a very Challengers-heavy setlist, and that album had its share of representation, but it was cool that they roamed through their catalog more freely.
When they played “A Testament to Youth in Verse,” I remembered that it was the very first song (that I liked at least) that they started to ask for. They called it the “no no no” song, which is a pretty obvious name for it if you have heard the song. There was a stretch of time when every time we were in the car, the kids would ask for that song, which always made me happy because I figured every moment training them to listen to bands like the New Pornographers will save me hours and hours of listening to the “I’m the Map” song from Dora or some cheesy recording of children singing Beatles covers. (Turns out that belief is somewhat true, but not quite as true as I wanted to believe it was.)
The band seemed to be having a lot of fun. At some point between songs the drummer popped the cap off his beer such that it hit the bass, so the bass player attempted to retaliate but missed with the cap, so he just started splashing the beer from his bottle at him. At which point Carl Newman noticed that they’d gotten beer on his guitar and started playing the part of the stern dad who was going to pull the concert over and deal with them if they didn’t settle down. When the drummer’s kick pedal malfunctioned, the band paused for a few minutes while he fixed it and the crowd started to get restless, and Neko promised that she was going to throw down and kick someone’s ass for whatever it was that he yelled. It doesn’t sound so funny there in print, but it was funny live. There was also recurring banter about pirates, scurvy, and tetanus.
But the most important thing was that I got to listen to some loud, powerful music. Do you know the poem “Loud Music” by Stephen Dobyns? ” Loud music does this, it wipes out the ego, / leaving turbulent water and winding road, / a landscape stripped of people and language– / how clear the air becomes, how sharp the colors.” Yeah, it was like that.