Concert preview: Neko Case keeps on the sunny side even as her music explores darker roads

Andy Downing, Columbus Alive

Neko Case might cut a slight figure, but when she opens her mouth to sing she can transform into an absolute bear. "I'm a man," she howls in the midst of her latest album, the generously titled The Worse Things Get, The Harder I Fight, The Harder I Fight, The More I Love You. "That's what you raised me to be." Even so, the best moments here tend to be the quietest - the lonesome pull of "Calling Cards," a minimalist cover of Nico's "Alone" - with Case channeling the golden-voiced siren she portrayed alongside longtime bandmate Kelly Hogan and, uh, former Philadelphia Phillies first baseman Jon Kruk on the animated series "Aqua Teen Hunger Force."

In concert, Case and Hogan form a dynamic (and foul-mouthed) comedic duo, and they keep the mood light by interspersing songs of heartache and emotional devastation with bawdy jokes that could make some churchgoers blush. As bad as things might get at times, their stage demeanor appears to suggest, there's little benefit in moping.

Thao & The Get Down Stay Down open the show.

Newport Music Hall

7 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 19

1722 N. High St., Campus