For the first show of the current leg of her tour supporting Middle Cyclone, Neko Case brought her band to Boulder’s historic Chautauqua Auditorium.
As always, her incredible voice deserves the most attention but the night was full of some of the kind of stage banter that makes you wish that everyone was as as naturally funny as Neko and Kelly Hogan. The topics of the night included magpies, birdseed, integrating dogs into society and mesh tube tops.
The evening was a complete with John and Joey from Calexico opening with a half-hour set (highlights were Bisbee Blue and their closing rendition of All The Pretty Little Horses).
“This place is fancy,” Neko said.
“We’re all shrunk up,” Kelly said.
“We’re gonna do a new song, about a killer picnic,” Kelly said.
“Interesting,” Neko said.
People Got A Lot of Nerve
with a really nifty video of animated Neko and greyhounds, orcas, elephants, etc.
“So we’re going to play lots of new songs, cause we’re on tour for the new record,” Neko said. “So, just warning you.”
“Thank you,” Neko said.
“Thanks very much,” Kelly said.
“This is the most beautiful barn I’ve ever been in,” Neko said. “Well, no, I think this might literally be the most beautiful building in the world.”
“That’s what I’m saying,” Kelly added. “What a temple.”
“It’s freaking me out,” Neko said.
“Well, just freak back in,” Kelly said. “You can freak out as long as you freak back in.”
“This song was co-written with the Sadies of Toronto, Canada,” Neko said.
Hold On, Hold On
A dog outside barked and Neko said, “Yes, I know, dogs can come to the show!”
“I know!” Kelly said.
“Our whole set is dedicated to everybody who brought their dog.”
“Dang, this is like the most perfect show ever.”
“This song is about the first man that I ever loved, he was kind of a, I guess he was a real person, but I completely dreamt him,” Neko said. “Never met him, not one time. And no man has ever lived up to his prowess ever since, which I guess is a testament to my imagination.”
“And it would probably be against the law,” Kelly said. “A little bit of Benji, Lassie,”
“A little bit of Gene Hackman,”
Kelly agreed again, “Don’t forget Gene.”
“Kelly and I dig the older men,” Neko said.
“Yes, we do, the silverbacks.”
“The silverbacks?” Neko giggled.
“Line them up right along here,”
“Oh, my God!”
“Start the song, please.”
“This next song is the title track off our new record, called Middle Cyclone,” Neko said.
“It features exciting new instruments,” Kelly said.
“This is called a shegby, invented by Paul Rigby and Shelly, our sound woman. I will try not to mess it up.”
“It’s gonna look a lot better when I Bedazzle it.”
“Will that dampen it’s resonating qualities though, if you Bedazzle it?”
“It’s going to enhance… and blind.”
“Awesome shegbing, Kelly!” Neko said. “That was great.”
“The shegby plays itself,” Kelly said.
Deep Red Bells
“Sorry, I’m shedding,” Neko said, brushing her hair away. “I feel like I have spiders all over me.”
“We have to brush you down before the show,” Kelly said.
“I know, we should have got the curry comb out, or the Defurminator.”
I Wish I Was The Moon
There were some more dogs barking and Neko said, “One day we’ll live in a world where dogs are fully integrated in our society and they can just go everywhere,”
“They’re cleaner that me and you,” Kelly said.
“You could have them at breakfast, at the restaurant.”
“We have dogs on our rider, we do.”
“Here’s a song called ‘I’m An Animal,’ actually, appropriately enough.”
I’m An Animal
Kelly laughed at Neko’s continuing hair troubles and said, “I’ll wipe off your lather after the show, put a blanket on you.”
“This song is a spooky song, for all those of you standing out in the dark,” Neko said.
“How was y’alls picnics?” Kelly asked. “This is a sad song, about tigers.”
“And I will play it right tonight!” Neko said in a funny voice. “Here in Boulder, Colorado. Yes, it starts with a wicked ‘G’… ‘G’ for gee whiz.”
The Tigers Have Spoken
“Dogs like that one,” Neko commented after some more barking.
“‘That’s right, on a chain!'” Kelly said.
“They’re like ‘large predators, man, we feel you! Just ’cause you got carnacial jaws they discriminate.'” Neko said in a high pitched-voice. “Yeah, that’s right. ‘Just ’cause I don’t like to cook my meat doesn’t mean I’m not a person too, man.’ I don’t even know what song we’re doing now.
“‘When you people lick your butts, you say it’s a fetish,'” she continued in her high-pitched voice to lots of laughter. “‘We’re just doing what’s natural, man.'”
“What a segue,” Kelly said.
“Sorry,” Neko giggled.
“Never prouder to know you.”
“‘Sure, I got body lice, whatever, man.’ I had body lice too, dogs, I know, I know what it feels like. This is for everybody who’s had body lice… and or head lice, like me at the same time. Not now, it was awhile ago… it was because of a thrift store hat.”
Margaret vs. Pauline
“We’d like to invite our friend John Convertino to come play some drums with us,” Neko said.
“People need to see your wicked stylings,” Kelly said. “Ok, spotlight on Convertino.”
“Project, project,” Neko said, waving her arms.
“Thank you, John!” Neko said. “Now we’re going to do a sad song that Harry Nilsson wrote.”
“Which one?” Kelly asked.
“We’ll be here all night.”
“One of the chestnuts from the sad-ass canon of Harry Nilsson, the weepity, weep, weep, weep.”
“I can only hope to have a sad-ass canon.”
“I’m working on my sad-ass canon.”
“Sad, but also hilarious, how does he do it?”
“That’s what makes him one of the silverbacks. That, and that thigh-length terry cloth robe.”
“That chocolaty brown terry cloth robe… yeah, we’re great at segues, aren’t we? Let’s do this one.”
Don’t Forget Me
“Thanks very much,” Neko said. “For having us in your barn.”
“There’s a barn,” Kelly said, motioning to the video screen where a barn had been.
“That made it completely circular.”
“Here’s a song about Paul, over there in the hat.”
That Teenaged Feeling
“Now let’s have Mr. Joey Burns come out and play some guitar,” Neko said.
“Thanks for having us here in y’alls beautiful barn,” Kelly said. “Man.”
“I know, we keep saying it but we keep meaning it.”
“Our minds are boggled.”
Someone in the crowd yelled, “Stay!”
“Ok,” Neko laughed. “Alright, we like dogs and nature and barns. But you don’t have tornadoes.”
“They don’t have what?” Kelly asked.
“Tornadoes, real tornadoes.”
“We have a lot of tornadoes,” someone said.
“Really? You do?”
“Tomatoes?” Kelly said.
“No, tornadoes,” Neko laughed. “That is a really good reason to stay though.”
This Tornado Loves You
“Thank you Boulder, thank you for being so nice every time we come and thanks for letting us play in the awesome mega-barn,” Neko said.
“And thanks for bringing your dogs and thanks to everyone here,” Kelly said.
“And we ate most of your food, so, we’re sorry. But thank you for coming.”
They left the stage for the encore break.
When they came back out, Neko said, “We’re going to use up the remainder of our air, you know? Oh, gosh.”
“You alright?” Kelly checked.
“This is a song for all the tomboys in love, you should know now how screwed you really are.”
“You’re doomed! Doomed!”
“‘I totally welded the roof rack on his car and he doesn’t even notice me,'”
“‘I wore my dress pants!'”
“‘I wore my dress pants, man! Fuck! I can do full-on plank push-ups! Fuck it.”
Vengeance is Sleeping
“Thank you,” Neko said. “Nice work, Paul!”
“Oh, man, this song has a shout-out in it!” Kelly said.
“I don’t even know what you’re talking about.”
“This song accidentally has a shout-out in it.”
“Just sing it, and then you’ll know.”
“Ok, you know we just did this one for the first time yesterday, in like three years. It’s resurrected. This song goes out to Joey and John who actually played on the record.”
“It sounds so good in this barn that we’re going to do a Sparks cover right now,” Kelly said. “Possibly ill-advised but we’re going to hang our orangutang butt out in the wind.”
“I’m going to hang my orangutang ass off my catamaran,” Neko said. “We’re going in the mud catamaran later with our tube-tops on, mesh tube-tops.”
“Yeah. And I’m wearing one of those, remember those old pop top outfits? I have short, short shorts.”
“Yeah, it’s hot.”
“Lined or not lined?”
“Oh, they’re lined.”
“Ok, good. We’ll talk later. Alright, focus. Back to, remember tube tops, feather earrings, you’re on the catamaran.”
“I know the guys that wrote this song would wear those outfits.”
“Yes, they would. And your favorite record cover ever is the one with the speedboat. Alright, here’s a song by the Sparks.”
Never Turn Your Back On Mother Earth
“Thank you for your indulgence here,” Kelly said. “It’s the barn.”
“How are we doing for time?” Neko asked. “I know we have a sharp curfew. A half-hour? Are you fucking serious?”
“Well, then ‘Freebird’ all the way, man. Are you kidding? One song and we’re out of here.
“Which one shall we do first?”
“Let’s do Magpies. That’ll be my request. A gentle cool-down.”
“There was lots of magpies actually, at the show today, earlier – you know, hopping around. Picking up entire bags of stuff. Looking dirty on the underside. They always look like they’re made out of that styrofoam they use to put on the edges of boats.
“They’re so cool they don’t give a shit about how dirty they are.” Neko continued. “‘Fuck preening, I’m huge and I’m awesome looking. I’m real smart.’ Magpies, they don’t need to preen, they’re fucking magpies. ‘My feathers are all opalescent and shit, I don’t have to do anything.'”
Magpie to the Morning
“Magpies just look like they’re wearing life vests all the time,” Neko said. “They’re like, ‘Don’t make fun of me or I’ll peck your fucking toddler’s eyes out, I got a big beak. And I ain’t afraid to use it.'”
“Represent,” Kelly laughed.
“And it was in your trash earlier, just in case you were thinking about it.”
“She knows her birds ladies and gentlemen, step back.”
“I think the best Christmas present I ever got was the birdseed block, like as big as the monitor.”
“She’s a bird nerd.”
“The hardest I ever laughed in my life, I went into the grocery store, with Paul actually, in Tucson and we went into buy, I don’t know what, but they had giant bags of birdseed and one was called…” She nearly collapsed in a pile of laughter just thinking about it. “It was called ‘Flock and Feast’… ‘Flock and Feast.'”
Kelly started saying “Flock and Feast” in a singsong way until the entire audience was giggling and Neko doubled over. “Yeah, see how it is? See how glamourous rock ‘n’ roll is? See how leather-studded our lives are?”
“Why is that so funny?” Neko managed to get out.
“We’re the laughing stock of the circuit, the touring circuit.”
“We’re the un… the uncoolest band in the world, welcome to our show… I gotta get my shit together.”
“Hurry up and play the song so we can go watch Bob Newhart on DVD on the bus.”
If You Knew
“Thanks so, so much,” Kelly said. “Ok. That’s Jon Rauhouse from Tempe, Ariz. over there on the pedal steel and other things.”
“It is,” Neko said.
“Tell me about ‘Flock and Feast’ over there on the guitar. That’s ‘Flock and Feast’ Paul Rigby on the guitar. From Calgary, Alberta, Canada”
“Paul thinks it’s about as funny as I do. And on the drums, Mr. Barry Mirochnick from Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada.”
“And this is Tom V. Ray from Indiana on the bass.”
“We’d like to thank Shelly on the sound board there, and Tim back here on our monitors and the lovely Kathleen Judge who’s doing our video.”
“And Tom, our tour manager.”
“And sweet, sweet Kelly, selling our stuff. And sweet, sweet Sandy who’s running around filming and moving things. And of course a huge thank you to Calexico for coming along with us on this tour. We love them so hard. We’re in the same band family. We’re going to keep our shit together for one more song.”
“This is a song by Sook-Yin Lee.”
“Thank you, Boulder and thank you Kelly Hogan who I forgot to introduce. Thank for making us feel so outstanding good, it’s so nice to play for you all. Please take good care of yourselves and thank you for the delicious food!”