The New Pornographers rock the house

Dana and I went to see the New Pornographers (along with Immaculate Machine and, glory be, Destroyer) at Bimbo's last night, and what a freakin' awesome show it was.

Bimbo's is perhaps San Francisco's best small-scale live music venue--more comfortable than Slim's, better laid out than GAMH--and we got there early enough to score one of the tables that ring the perimeter of the room. So we got to avoid the crush of the crowd (which becomes less and less appealing the farther you get from 25) and had the added bonus of being up on a riser of sorts, which allowed us to stand up and see clearly over everyone else's head.

Immaculate Machine (a new--and adorably young--group from Victoria) opened with a set of NP-inspired pop, with some hints of 80's New Wave thrown in for good measure. Destroyer was up next, featuring, of course, my current Inexplicable Musician Crush, Dan Bejar; though I kept telling Dana, "It's his voice! It's all about his voice!," she shook her head, perplexed, and said, "And here I thought I was the one who fell for guys who look they've just come off the street. (Fair enough: his hair is insane, he could really go in for a shave, and his garb suggested middle-aged Trekkie/former AV club leader. But it's all about the voice--the clarion, full, heavy voice. And that one widely disseminated publicity photo of him at a piano in which he actually looks sultry.)

Destroyer is something of an acquired taste, for sure, but I find the combination of Bejar's voice (and generally indecipherable lyrics) and the band's guitar melodies (Built to Spill-esque in their richness and catchiness) to be pretty infectious. So their set made me happy.

But, of course, what put me over the edge (and onto my feet) was the NPs, who were as catchy and funny and melodious as ever. As I had hoped, Dan Bejar joined them for a few numbers (increasingly tipsy each time he came out on stage as the night wore on), and though they didn't do "Broken Beads," they did do both "Jackie"s and "Ballad of a Comeback Kid," so I can't complain. It was the first time I'd seen the entire band play live together (Bejar didn't do the last two tours), which was delicious and wonderful.

Also great is the fact that they played twenty-four songs--essentially the equivalent of two whole albums--and did two encores, which included aborted covers of Led Zepplin, AC/DC, and Nirvana and ending with "Letter from an Occupant." All told, it was a brilliant, fun, sweet, exciting show.

Set list as follows:
Twin Cinema
Use It
The End of Medicine
Mass Romantic
Jackie, Dressed in Cobras
These Are the Fables
Three or Four
The Bleeding Heart Show
Ballad of a Comeback Kid
Falling Through Your Clothes
The Laws Have Changed
Streets of Fire
It's Only Divine Right
Stacked Crooked
The Fake Headlines
The Bones of an Idol
The Slow Descent into Alcoholism
Sing Me Spanish Techno
All for Swinging You Around
From Blown Speakers
Miss Teen Wordpower
The Electric Version
Letter from an Occupant