Summer Live w/ The New Pornographers, Neko Case & Hannah Georgas @ Stanley Park -- 07/09/11

All year the city of Vancouver has been celebrating its 125th year, and this weekend is one of the events I have been looking forward to most: Summer Live; a weekend of free shows in Stanley Park, showcasing Vancouver talent. The first night, which I had to miss, had Mother Mother headlining, but with the lineup they had for the second night, I knew nothing was going to keep me from it.

There was music happening nearly all day, but I showed up at 6, just in time to see the gorgeous Hannah Georgas. The sound for the whole event wasn't really that great, but Hannah seemed to have the worst least good sound. The drums especially seemed a little loud throughout the set, but that aside, it was quite enjoyable. Joined, as usual, by Andrew Braun & Johnny Andrews of Rococode and Robbie Driscoll of everyone (seriously, if I had a nickel for every time I've seen him play with a different band...), she started off with “Chit Chat”, and a few more from This Is Good before a couple new songs, mentioning a new album in the works, which I am eagerly anticipating. “Your Ghost” and "All I Need", off The Beat Stuff EP, were definite highlights of the set, and she ended, after wishing Vancouver a happy birthday, with "The Deep End".

Chit Chat, Bang Bang You're Dead!, Lovers Breakdown, Thick Skin, Dancefloor, [new song], [new song], The Beat Stuff, Let's Talk, Your Ghost, The National, All I Need, The Deep End.

Next up was the person I was most anticipating for the day, Neko Case. It had been over two years since I last saw her live (not counting shows with The New Pornographers), so saying I was just a little excited is an understatement. She started, and ended, for that matter, with songs I didn't recognize, but the bulk of her set was off her last two albums Middle Cyclone and Fox Confessor Brings The Flood, with a few new ones thrown in. The new songs sounded great, and her voice was, as usual, simply amazing. From lulling the crowd with the softer songs like "That Teenage Feeling" to knocking people over with sheer power on songs like "People Got A Lotta Nerve", her voice in unparalleled. Another thing that makes Case so enjoyable live is her great banter and sense of humour on stage, especially between her and backup vocalist Kelly Hogan.
They, too, had some technical difficulties, but it is always incredible seeing Neko Case live, and I just hope it's not another two years before I get to see her again.

[mystery song], Maybe Sparrow, People Got A Lotta Nerve, Fever, The Pharaohs, Hold On Hold On, That Teenage Feeling, Middle Cyclone, [new song], Margaret vs. Pauline, [new song], Vengeance is Sleeping, I'm An Animal, I Wish I Was The Moon, Red Tide, [new song], This Tornado Loves You, [mystery song].

After Case I rushed over to the second stage to catch the last bit of The Zolas. As I got closer, I could hear the shrieks of the crowd, and Zach introduce a song as “about sex... or the lack thereof...” and I rounded the corner just in time for “Body Ash”. I only caught four songs, but they were as good as I've seen them; Zach especially seemed to have more energy than usual, bounding around stage. They “ended” with “Pyramid Scheme” -- which I don't think I had ever seen live, so I was happy to hear it -- before coming back (they acknowledged the faux pas of doing an encore while not the headliner, saying Said The Whale insisted) with “You're Too Cool”, which ended with a crowd sing-a-long.

(partial) setlist
Body Ash, These Days, Pyramid Scheme.
(encore) You're Too Cool.

At that point I made the executive decision to head back over to the main stage for The New Pornographers, and miss Said The Whale. Even though I have had bad luck with STW shows this year, I had still seen them thrice since I last saw The New Pornos. Plus... it's The New Pornographers!
They kicked off the set mentioning that Kathryn Calder was running late -- Case threatened to ground her, “With [her] grounding stick” -- so they started off with a couple older ones until Calder arrived. (To be fair, it was kind of insane getting to Stanley Park). From there they played for over an hour, hitting songs from all their albums, with loads of singing along.
Highlights of the set were "Adventures In Solitude" (despite the crowd's terrible offbeat clapping) and especially “Testament To Youth In Verse”, one of my favourites; though it just wasn't the same without Dan Bejar. In fact, I was a little disappointed that Bejar wasn't there at all, but of course it was still a great show regardless. They ended with one of my favourite songs of ever, “The Bleeding Heart Show”, which was an absolutely perfect way to cap off the day.

The Slow Descent into Alcoholism, All For Swinging You Around, Challengers, Moves, Sweet Talk Sweet Talk, Use It, Adventures in Solitude, Crash Years, All The Old Showstoppers, What Turns Up In The Dark, The Laws Have Changed, Testament to Youth in Verse, Your Hands (Together), Mass Romantic, Sing Me Spanish Techno, The Bleeding Heart Show.

It was a fantastic day of music, and I am now convinced that Hannah Georgas and Neko Case need to tour together... but I have to admit, it did end on a little bit of a sour note. During The New Pornographers final song, I could see something thrown on stage – looked like a water bottle – which just reminded me of the video of Case snapping when a CD was thrown on stage at a show.
After the song the set was done and nothing was said, but after the usual cheering, there ended up being no encore. I chalked it up to curfew, but according to Chris Coburn of The Peak, who was emceeing, there was no encore because Case did not want to go back out due to the thrown object. Which, good. Artists should not have to deal with that kind of crap, and as much as I wanted an encore, I fully support them in not going back out.