The New Pornographers rock in Ithaca with top-quality show, despite low turnout

Review: The indie rockers put on a powerhouse performance blending classic hits and new music.

The New Pornographers rocked the State Theatre of Ithaca on Tuesday night, and fewer than 200 people were there to see it.

To my surprise, the Theatre was nowhere near full. I got to the venue 30 minutes before the show, which was general admission, even started and still managed to get seats in the fourth row.

But, the show deserved a far greater turnout than it received.

Photo: Abby Rose Sugnet
Jaill, an indie rock band, opened for The New Pornographers for the first of six shows on Tuesday night.

Tuesday’s show was the first of six performances that Jaill opened for The New Pornographers. The indie band put on a great psych-pop show. If you’re into music from Cloud Nothings, Ty Segall and Smith Westerns, Jaill is certainly for you.

After Jaill finished, much of the audience left their seats and crowded the stage, waiting for the band to start. The audience consisted of an evenly split balance between hipster college students and hip middle-age couples.

The New Pornographers hit the stage with the title track of their latest album, Brill Bruisers. All seven members of the band were onstage, including A.C. Newman, Neko Case, and Dan Bejar, who are known in the indie rock world for their solo albums.

Bejar performed for less than half of the songs, leaving the stage during certain songs. This is normal for any of Bejar’s shows with The New Pornographers: he only sings and plays guitar in about half of the band’s music.

In between songs, Newman mentioned that he lives in Woodstock, N.Y. Everyone cheered, and Newman joked with the audience, saying, “Yeah, we live in the same state.”

He then went on to talk about how he feels bad for his wife, who is trapped in snow, shoveling it by herself.

The audience laughed, so he said, “You think that doesn’t hurt a man, feeling so helpless?” Bejar just looked at him and laughed.

The band played a mix of songs from all of its albums, the first of which released in 2000. Most of the songs played were upbeat and lively.

But when “Adventures in Solitude” played, the audience traded energetic dancing for a slow sway with loved ones. The band gradually picked speed back up with the crowd favorite, “Sweet Talk, Sweet Talk.”

As the night went on, the band interacted with the audience more and more.

During “Backstairs,” the keyboardist started mimicking a few of the crowd members and directed the audience with hand motions until everyone was dancing together.

After the show, he even found the few crowd members who started the hand movements and invited them onto the tour bus to hang out before they left.

“It was awesome,” said Ithaca College student Claire McClusky. “We kept making eye contact and he came out to find us after the show.”

Just before playing the last song of the set, Newman brought up the rumor that the State Theatre of Ithaca was haunted and declared that he casted out the ghosts.

“That’s a good way to say goodbye to an audience, right? Out, demon!" Newman joked. "We are the New Pornographers, goodnight!”

The New Pornographers closed with “Mass Romantic,” the title track from the band’s first album. After the band left the stage, Newman returned for an encore performance.

“We’ve changed our plans, no reason,” he said.

They went on to play “Jackie,” and “Sing Me Spanish Techno.” After the band closed with “The Bleeding Heart Show,” fans left with big grins and energy.

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