The New Pornographers

Roots Stage, Downsview Park, Toronto ON, September 7

The New PornographersRoots Stage, Downsview Park, Toronto ON, September 7
Photo: Stephen McGill
Stepping out onto a stage bathed in glorious sunshine, the New Pornographers quickly established themselves as a highlight of Riot Fest's second day. Kicking off the set with the infectious "Brill Bruisers" from their new album of the same name, the group's flawless harmonies and sunny "ba-ba-ba"s set the tone for an exciting set. Neko Case was not so surprisingly absent, but Kathryn Calder and touring vocalist Coco Hames more than held their own on the female vocal parts. Coming and going as the setlist arrived at his songs, Dan Bejar was present and provided a standout performance of Challengers' "Myriad Harbour" just two songs in.

Carl Newman — wearing a Belle and Sebastian Life Pursuit t-shirt — dominated the set vocally with Brill Bruisers tracks like "Dancefloor Domine" and "Backstairs," but it was old favourites that received the most audience appreciation. Calder shone on her rendition of Electric Version's "The Laws Have Changed," while Bejar stole the show again with "Jackie Dressed in Cobras," and one more time with finale "Testament to Youth in Verse." A 40-minute festival block is obviously not the best way to experience a band with such an extensive and beloved catalogue, but it was nevertheless a great lead-in to an evening filled with comparatively lacklustre music.

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