Concert Preview: Neko Case

By Emily Smith

Dude, my mom likes Neko Case.Except for the brief period that produced The Beatles and Joni Mitchell, my mom doesn’t like any music that’s been written since Mozart died, and she is incapable of tuning anything out. She’s subjected me to Saturday afternoon opera on our local NPR station for as long as I can remember (and she sings along), but I’m forbidden to play music when she’s in earshot. No matter how hungry I am, she’ll drive miles to find a place that has no audible music with vocals, and when Faith Hill inevitably comes on at the grocery store, my sweet mother turns into an angsty, fire-breathing monster.

So imagine my surprise when, one day in June, my mother came home as Neko Case crooned her folky ballads from my computer. Just as I reached to hit “mute” (muscle memory developed after many a family feud), my mom said, “This is pretty. Who is it?”

If my mom likes it, anyone can like it, so one of the reasons that I’m looking forward to Case’s concert at First Avenue next Thursday, Sept. 18, is to people watch in the audience.

Case, an alt-country singer/song writer, is quoted as saying, “Country music is completely punk rock. It’s the original punk rock”-but I doubt whether the crowd will include pierced, tattooed, tattered-clothed punk rockers.

Case is comparable to-but less weird than-Joanna Newsom, and her lyrics call The Decemberists to mind, but she has a more classically country, Lucinda Williams sort of sound. Will her concert bring together hippie weirdoes and pretentious college students (I say that lovingly) and people who play banjo in their free time?

I’m going because I’m curious about the crowd, but great music from an intimidatingly beautiful singer should make the price of a ticket worth it to anyone. Seriously, if my mom likes it, you will.