Better than: Brunch at Zazie (maybe).
If nothing else, at least the New Pornographers will remember San Francisco for our breakfast.
Six songs into a speedy set at the Regency Ballroom last night, when the band finally took a pause from dashing out urgent indie-pop, the topic of (brief) discussion was the delights of cured pork -- recently experienced by Neko Case at S.F. breakfast hotspot Brenda's. But band member Kathryn Calder, whom Case accused of vegetarianism, preferred Zazie. "I almost cried it was so good," she swooned about yesterday's stop. Case asked whether we could smell the fatty pork sweating out of her. (Sadly, we couldn't -- and we were standing really close.)
All we heard 'em say besides bacon joy and a couple "thank you"s were song lyrics, but no problem there. The New Pornographers can unfurl some of the most un-hooky hooks in non-Top 40 pop, and last night we heard almost all of them, sped way up for the live show: "The Slow Descent into Alcoholism," "The Laws Have Changed," "Twin Cinema," "Sing Me Spanish Techno," and even newer songs like "Moves" -- which proved almost (though not quite) equal to the faster, bigger, older numbers everyone loves but that the band doesn't seem to write as much anymore. These tunes fired up urgently from the start, riding the bouncy drumwork of Kurt Dahle from one earworm section to the next like constant anthems speckled with Newman's agile falsetto. Some of them -- like maybe three out of 21 -- were slow; they came and passed without boredom or transcendence.It was a special post-Coachella night for the band: Case was on hand last night to render the omnipotent sing-honk that contrasts so well with Newman's prissy sheen, and the vocal harmonies issuing from the Regency P.A. were unfailingly sweet. Calder, Newman's niece, was a slighter vocal presence,
Personal bias: Heavy favoritism for Zazie and Brenda's. Go there. (Or don't, and keep the waits shorter for those of us who can't stay away.)Opener: Menomena sounded fine for the four songs I heard -- not as big as at its headlining shows at Great American last year, but likeable nonetheless.