Smile Politely

Champaign-Urbana be warned: Neko Case will enchant

neko2I have a huge crush on Neko Case. So much so, that I lament in not being able to interview her for this preview. Probably for the best though. Last thing an interviewer and the interviewed needs are gushing questions issuing from a bumbling smitten fan. It could easily turn into the worst nightmare, ever. 

Nonetheless, there is still plenty to say, and I can make up the interview in my mind. 

The first thing I would ask her would be this: “Neko, when I saw you this summer at Lollapalooza, you seemed uncharacteristically nettled on stage, why was that?”  

I am envisioning her answer would be something along these lines: “Well Zack, considering it was 157°F, I was wearing all black, just finished a recent summer tour, and 85% of the audience was down at the other end watching Vampire Weekend, what would have been a more appropriate demeanor?” 

Awesome, she is such a badass. The interview would have ended right there and I would tell her that I am looking forward to the show.

Seriously though, it was hot as the Sahara on that Sunday at 4 p.m. in northern Grant Park. However, even through the incessant heat, her set was amazing. Screw the tight jeans that might rub too close for comfort at the Vampire Weekend end of things. I was 50 feet from the stage taking it all in. Her main backing vocalist Kelly Hogan, seamlessly filled in the normal witty banter that has become the trademark of her interviews and live shows. Everything rang clear and true through the vast space that an outdoor venue occupies. This is a huge accomplishment for a non-arena rock act, especially considering many highly anticipated outdoor shows I have attended consistently lose their edge in that gigantic void.

Neko’s voice on her solo material has a different timbre than her New Pornographers work. It literally brings me back to the first time I heard Patsy Cline in the living room with my mother at 12 years old.  There is this tinny honky-tonk shrill that runs down my spine and puts me into David Lynch’s Twin Peaks: Fire Walk With Me or any Tarantino film.  Listen to “Star Witness” and “Hold On, Hold On” from 2006’s Fox Confessor Brings the Flood and you’ll see what I mean. I like to envision her in Nashville hanging out back stage of the Ryman Auditorium with Patsy and Loretta before her show. One shot of whiskey to calm the nerves, then taking the stage to simultaneously scare and enchant every man, woman and child in the audience.  

If you have missed all the amazing shows that came through town this semester, please do not miss this one. I am most certain the dark confines of the Canopy Club will be filled with the haunting allure of her siren song. The temperature will be regulated, the season well into the depleting daylight hours of fall, and the stars aligned for a mesmerizing event. Okay, slightly gushing here. Smitten liberties taken by a man with a crush. 

Show starts Friday, November 6th at 9 p.m. Tickets are $22 in advance and more than likely around $25 at the door. 

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