By Cody Norton
On Nov. 8, singer Neko Case played at the Harro East Ballroom in Rochester, NY, for the first time, along with her accompanying band consisting of bassist Tom V. Ray, drummer Barry Mirochnick, guitarist Paul Rigby, multi-instrumentalist Jon Rauhouse and vocalist Kelly Hogan. The opening act for Case was vocalist Sarah Harmer.
Throughout the entire set, Neko’s voice ripped through the ballroom with the instinctual ferocity of a wild tiger, especially during her aptly titled song, “I’m An Animal.” The sheer power of her vocalizations evoked a storm cloud of emotion, slowly meandering across the audience until it enveloped the entire room, encapsulating our bodies with her melodies.
The raw quality and beauty Case eschewed was something that could only be caught within the intimacy of a live show; it was as if the audience were voyeurs looming over Case, whose soul was exposed for our own hedonistic consumption.
In a candid moment, Case discussed her shyness when she revealed her aversion to photographs during the set. Case expressed concern over how she would gaze into the audience, only to see people taking photographs. This would take her out of the moment and, as Case put it, would cause her to “Fuck up—And then you would know I was a fraud.” She then detailed her band’s dinner at Red Lobster, where one of the members tipped over a glass of beer. Feigning embarrassment, Case hoped the city would forgive her.
The atmosphere of the show was effervescent yet calming and can best be described through Case’s own lyrics: “It was so clear to me that it was almost invisible. I lie across the path waiting, just for a chance to be a spider-web trapped in your lashes. For that, I would trade you my empire for ashes.” I longed to remain trapped within her soulful melodies which soothed me into a state of euphoria.
Throughout the show, Case mentioned that a previous concert date in Buffalo had been canceled due to unforeseen circumstances, and many members of the audience were patrons who would have attended that concert. Case described the night as some sort of mangled “three-way” between Rochester, Buffalo and herself, and during the set she reflected on how she would rate herself as a date after every song. I am sure that Buffalo and Rochester would agree that our three-way with Case and her band was most certainly a 10 out of 10.