Long live rock, I need it every night

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

National Success

Potsy is our go to guy for covering The National but he was busy celebrating Memorial Day and eating clam chowder in New England. Fortunately, Andrew, our Senior Youth Correspondent, was at the 9:30 Club on Sunday to review the show.

The National
w/ Colin Stetson
May 24, 2009

Brooklyn-via-ClevelandCincinnati indie rockers The National visited DC for three shows this Memorial Day weekend-two on Sunday night and then one on Monday night. I caught the earlier of the two Sunday night shows thanks to a friend who had the foresight to bag two tickets since all three ended up selling out.

I was pleasantly surprised by opener Colin Stetson. I checked him out the day before and from what his myspace had to show, he was an experimental saxophone player who was on tour supporting a new record of original tunes for solo saxophone. I wasn't too excited for him because the songs on the myspace sounded like typical "I dare you to say this isn't music" experimental fare. I had completely misjudged Stetson--his performance gets an A for three reasons.

1) He played a short (20 minute) five song set. This was genius because even the most pedestrian of music listeners will give experimental mumbo jumbo like Colin's a short listen before they get bored or, more than often than not, angry.

2) Colin Stetson played the largest saxophone I have ever seen. Someone screamed out "What are you playing?" Answer: Bass Saxophone. It was huge. His large instrument added a "spectacle" element that helped the crowd stay interested.

3) He worked great with the crowd. The crowd was very responsive. The music was definitely interesting to listen to, and his lip smacking technique to add a drum sound was very impressive. The crowd cheered louder after every number, and Colin seemed simultaneously perplexed and overjoyed to get such a good reaction from the crowd. That's DC for you Colin. We shall never dance, but if you play crazy saxophone ditties, we will applaud as if you were a Pavement reunion.

Having only seen The National once before at Merriweather opening for REM, catching them in a club was, as expected, a whole different experience. I was pretty close since the lady I came with is kinda short, and this was most definitely a plus. The National opened with a new song called "The Runaway", a slow and introspective tune that found the band in their more orchestral mode rather than straight up rock mode.

It's hard to pick out highlights of their 90 minute set because each song was played with more tightness and intensity than the last. Although people were shouting requests all night to no avail (Annoying right?), some requests that were played when the band wanted to play them included "Start A War", "Apartment Story", and "Slow Show." The National relied almost exclusively on Boxer, their latest record, and Alligator, their second most recent LP. Singer Matt Berninger really threw himself into the performance, screaming many choruses with Morrissey-esque defiance.

"Mr. November" was in its proper place--the encore--during which Berninger doused himself in a conveniently located bottle of white wine and proceeded to chuck ice cubes and flowers into the crowd. The professionalism and talent of the band was more than evident in The National's stunning set Sunday night. The performance as well as the three sold out shows go to show why The National are one of the best indie bands around. Also, as if anyone cares, this show is now tied with the free Spoon show at GW for best of the year, in the Senior Youth Correspondent category of course.


Jimbromski said...

that's a big goddamn saxophone

Steve said...

As a native-born Cincinnatian, I feel compelled to point out that the band is originally from Cincy, not Cleveland.

They're one of the very few things from Cincinnati to be proud of (WOXY, The Afghan Whigs, The National and... Jerry Springer?).

Jumbo Slice said...

It wouldn't be a DCRC review w/o an error. Rock Club needs a Senior Youth Copy Editor (especially me).

Andrew's use of the phrase "mumbo jumbo" gave me an idea. I'll compile my top 10 grammatical fuck-ups (and other mistakes) on the site for a post called "Mumbo-Jumbo Slice". Considering my inability to proofread it may become a weekly feature.

Anonymous said...

The National did a brilliant job on DC this week. Also short girls? Hot.

Anonymous said...

Kudos to Young Andrew for "typical "I dare you to say this isn't music" experimental fare." Very nice.

Also, don't sell yourself short, Cincy. Aren't you forgetting Herb Tarlock?