neko case and the new yorker festival

Okay, so Baltimore isn’t New York (which sometimes I’m really glad about), but I only live a 4 hour bus ride away.  One of my best friends (who is obsessed with the New Yorker) alerted me that Neko Case was to be appearing at the New Yorker Festival on October 17, so that coupled with my dear friend’s arrival in New York City was enough for me to go. 

I really like Neko Case.  More than just a casual fan and listener, her music really speaks to me.  Her whole attitude and the way she handles herself and her art are something I look up to and aspire to be.

The talk started out a bit shakey for me, as Neko and Sasha Frere Jones (the interviewer and host) sort of figured out what to talk about.   The beginning of it was a bit specific- talking about a concert in New York that I hadn’t attended, and some show that she played with Elvis Costello that I hadn’t seen.  Eventually, they got the meat and potatoes of the whole thing, and it was pretty interesting.  I didn’t realize that although booked as a solo act, Neko Case has as much as a band as anyone else – they just don’t want to be in the spotlight.  The members are very much a pack that write together and help to shape the songs.  Neko said that she liked that whole group dynamic – when someone isn’t feeling themselves one day, the others can pick up the slack.  It’s nice to work with people you believe in that much. 

Another topic that was heavily discussed was the idea of filming and the role that social media and YouTube take on in music today.  For example, minutes after a concert, videos can be uploaded to YouTube, you can tweet about the concert and share your experience.  Her point was that it makes the concert less special when you do that and share with the world.  Being a fan of social media, I relish the fact that others can share concerts and what they are doing but that doesn’t mean it’s without consequences.  Her point is well taken, especially with the idea that something like filming is more focused on getting the shot rather than the feeling of the music at that time.

She and her band ended up playing 5 songs – Maybe Sparrow, People Got Alotta Nerve, Middle Cyclone, Margaret and Pauline and Vengeance is Sleeping.  (Not in that order.)  Middle Cyclone is an all-time favorite, so I was pleased with that selection.

Overall, I really enjoyed the talk.  I wish that the meaning behind the songs (which I suppose is secondary in a lot of ways), or the inspiration to write certain songs.  I guess it’s because I have such a reverence for her lyrics that I wanted the inside scoop on them.  I could have asked her a question about it in the Q&A, but I couldn’t form a question that didn’t sound too loaded or too long winded.  I was hoping to see her after she finished the talk, but she didn’t linger. Saddness.

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