Photo: Brian Cassella/Chicago Tribune
Each time Neko Case leaned toward the microphone showcasing her formidable vocal power last Friday night at the Hideout Block Party/AV Fest, the crowd leaned with her, eager to consume her sound as quirky as it is wonderful.
Friday marked Case’s first tour date since the release of her album, The Worse Things Get, The Harder I Fight, The Harder I Fight, The More I Love You, and while the night skewed toward her new songs, the indisputable highlight of the night—judging by the crowd reaction—was the performance of “Nearly Midnight, Honolulu,” an a capella tune that Case sang with Chicago native Kelly Hogan.
The story recalls when Case’s witnessed a mother berating her son one night at a bus stop in Honolulu. She began quietly: “Hey little kid that I saw at the bus stop one day.” As she moved through the song, Case's intensity heightened peaking when she and Hogan cut through the night air belting “Get the fuck away from me, why don’t you ever shut up?”
While Case herself is a tour de force, Hogan's effect was chilling, loudly echoing the lyrics at points and smoothly harmonizing at others. It was so chilling that the audience froze in its place, keen to hear every note. It was only when the song concluded that listeners came back to life celebrating the set with a noticeably long ovation.