Show Review: Jakob Dylan featuring Neko Case and Kelly Hogan with The Felice Brothers at the Regency Ballroom, 5/12/10

by Jason LeRoy on May 13, 2010

Jakob Dylan: still dreamy after all these years. Photos by Christopher Rogers.

Could it be possible that Jakob Dylan actually prefers to exist in the shadows of others? I mean, seriously. First he makes the questionable decision to get into the exact same line of work as his father. And if that line of work was, like, plumbing or something, then fine. But if Bob Dylan is your father and you decide you’re also a folk-rock singer-songwriter? That’s like Janis Joplin’s (rhetorical) daughter choosing to become a boozy bluesy hippie, or Moses and Apple Paltrow-Martin deciding to start insufferable lifestyle blogs and rip off U2 for a living — your parents pretty much pioneered the concept, so why bother?

Not that I’m dismissing Jakob Dylan as a musician in any way. He is a perfectly capable singer, songwriter, and guitarist. He also appears to have siphoned every last attractiveness gene in the entire Dylan lineage, which: good for him! He has wisely been recording with Americana music god T-Bone Burnett for almost his entire 20-year career, and has never exploited his family connections or personal life in any way. He could have traded on his name immediately by starting out as “Jakob Dylan,” but instead he scored his biggest (only) hits as the lead singer of The Wallflowers. Not that you need a famous last name when you have eyes like that. Anyway.

Dylan introduced his first solo album in 2008, and released his sophomore solo effort, Women and Country, earlier this year. While a new Jakob Dylan album wouldn’t usually beep on my radar, there was something significantly different this time around: it was announced that he’d be joined by none other than Neko Case and her erstwhile harmony vocalist, Kelly Hogan (a riveting solo performer in her own right), on eight of the album’s tracks.

Neko Case: that flame-haired goddess whose career and credibility seem to get hotter every year, and whose last album, Middle Cyclone, debuted at #2 on the Billboard album charts. This was quite a get for Dylan. However, it also meant that Women and Country would no longer be “the new Jakob Dylan album,” but rather “that Jakob Dylan album that NEKO CASE IS SINGING ON!!!”

Once again, Dylan was allowing himself to be overshadowed by a larger presence. While his work with The Wallflowers still netted him more hit singles than Case will presumably ever have, that was over ten years ago. Case, on the other hand, seems to be hitting one staggering career peak after another. Her fan base is constantly growing, she is an unequivocal critics’ darling, and she’s actually finding commercial success. So, to me (and all the other mystified Neko fans), the question was this: huh? Why? Huh?

The closest answer I can find is in this interview with Dylan, where he explains that it was basically T-Bone’s idea (aren’t they all?). As for Case’s willingness to play background girl, there’s certainly precedent in her work with The New Pornographers that she enjoys collaborations where she isn’t always front and center. So, I guess, fair enough. But then, things got even weirder: it was announced that Neko and Kelly (along with their touring band) would actually be joining Dylan as his touring band. As in, standing at the side of the stage singing “ooh ahh.” And once again: huh? What? Huh???

Oh well. At least it provided me with another opportunity to stare at these two in public without a police report being filed:

Neko Case looking uncomfortably similar to Tilda Swinton.

Kelly Hogan belting "Three Marlenas" as if her life depends on it.

It was a comfortably mellow show, just like Dylan’s music. He pulled the majority of the material from his solo albums, while also favoring the crowd with a few Wallflowers classics I’d completely forgotten about. When the band first started playing “Sixth Avenue Heartache,” my overwhelming sense of high school nostalgia was gradually replaced by the unsettling realization that Neko Case was singing backup on “Sixth Avenue Heartache.” Don’t get me wrong, it’s a solid song; but there’s just something about the legacy of The Wallflowers that’s a bit too Hootie for comfort, you know? There was something uncomfortably Hootie about a lot of the crowd as well, but I’ll save that rant for another day.

“Sixth Avenue Heartache” immediately put me on what I’ll call One Headlight Watch. I didn’t think Dylan would be playing any Wallflowers stuff, so when he pulled “Heartache” out of his sleeve, the 15-year-old in me was like, “Holy shit! I’m gonna see Jakob Dylan sing ‘One Headlight’! It’s gonna happen!” Then, when he busted out “Three Marlenas” a few songs later, my inner teen started hyperventilating. “The encore! The encore! He’s gonna do it in the encore!” It was one of those situations where you don’t even realize you want something until it suddenly becomes a possibility. But would you believe that asshole didn’t even play it? The nerve! I can truly say that Jakob Dylan totally blue-balled the teenage boy inside of me. Or something like that. And for that, he was given plastic flowers.

I'm pretty sure I saw the woman who gave these plastic flowers to him steal them from a vase on the bar.

After the show, Christopher Rogers (who took the photos in this review) and I proudly slapped on our VIP badges and stomped over to the terrifying Tenderloin side alley where the tour bus was parked, supposedly where we were going to meet Dylan and Co. Unfortunately, the Regency’s security wisely called bullshit on our VIP status (admittedly, I don’t really look like a VIP), and we ended up waiting for a whole lot of nothing. But we did see Kelly Hogan stagger down from the bus in her flip-flops and wrestle her duffel bag from the luggage compartment. Starstruck, party of two!

Setlist:

Had I seen this beforehand, I wouldn't have been nearly as crushed by the "One Headlight" oversight. Hmph.

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{ 6 comments… read them below or add one }

Christopher Rogers May 13, 2010 at 6:55 pm

Great retelling of the tale!

Reply

Dakin Hardwick May 13, 2010 at 7:36 pm

I do, indeed, super adore Kelly Hogan. I thought that this show was awesome, and I really enjoyed seeing the Felice Brothers do there fusion of shoegazer/klezmer/folk…

But, even though this was a Jakob Dylan show, and Neko just did back up vocals, it still felt like to Neko Case show… I think it was the John Rauhouse on pedal steel that did it.

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sharky May 18, 2010 at 9:09 am

the wallflowers are too hootie? just not true. go listen to their catalogue and get educated on the subject. [Expletive deleted by editor] you jason leroy. such a stupid comment. you’re just a lame hipster with not one original thought. so worried about what others think of your musical taste.

Reply

Gordon Elgart May 18, 2010 at 12:14 pm

J’accuse!

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jen May 18, 2010 at 10:48 am

wow! someone’s taking it personal sharky.

if you put neko case on a stage with jesus christ, bono and barack obama…my eyes most definitely be on neko case.

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Shawn Kaufman May 28, 2010 at 7:47 am

I thought the comments abt The Wallflowers were way off the mark. Every decade has bands that have one really big album & still make music that is good, just not as popular. The Wallflowers have been making solid albums since 1996’s Bringing Down the Horse, which is a great album! I think Jakob’s solo stuff has been good.
My challenge would be to think about how quick fads & music styles change. So with that in mind, it is unfair to judge a band or artist by how much he/she is on the radio or how much a critical darling they are.
The album has T-Bone’s stamp on it & maybe he thought Case/Hogan would be a good fit. He is the producer & this is what they do, which is guide albums. T-Bone Burnett & Rick Rueben, both tend to leave their mark on an album. Just listen to the music. When the 80s went & 90s came we were glad. Now look at the Return of the 80s & kids are going back & Yes…listening to Hair Metal again. Critics can create a lot of the musical landscape but it doesn’t mean their right.

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