Ramblings of a Redhead Music Snob

Life & Music in New York, My City

Posts Tagged ‘The National’

Im The Great White Hope

Posted by xneverwherex on December 15, 2011

The National
Sharon Van Etten
Beacon Theatre
12/13/11

The National have returned home (well across the river anyway) to finish up the year with 6 nights at the Beacon Theatre. These are the final shows for the latest album, High Violet. It seems like they have been out supporting this album now forever. But the time has come, and this is it.

The National came out to what felt like the longest version of Duran Duran’s ‘Wild Boys’. Finally, after the entire song had played the guys came out to a fairly sedated theatre. They opened the set with ‘Start A War’ which is a pretty slow song and not a bad way to start the set. Continuing with the Boxer album, they went right into ‘Brainy’ which was beginning to get the crowd excited. Slowly, people started getting on their feet.

The National

Matt joked about the prior night with some people standing, some sitting, random parts of the theater doing their own thing. And encouraged us to do what we wanted. At this point everyone was standing in the orchestra. Sadly, it was not the case for the upper levels. The sound was just beautiful in the Beacon. It filled the entire room with Matt’s soaring vocals. The Dessner brothers sounded really great on guitars and keyboards.

As with most of their shows, there were a few special guests. Conrad from Takka Takka was an additional drummer who played the entire set. At one point it sounded like they were introducing an ‘Andy’ Clark, but nope it was actually Annie Clark of St. Vincent. While she isn’t Sharon Van Etten (who is, really?), she did add some nice harmonies. She performed with them on ‘Im Afraid of Everyone’ and ‘Sorrow’. I wasnt sure those songs needed her (well esp I’m Afraid of Everyone), but it was great to see her accompany them.

As always Matt made a few appearances in the crowd. He did come over to the section that I was at and was hanging on the stairs but no one even seemed to pay him any mind. It was sad and beautiful all at once and then he was back in the front singing in another corner. It always has a nice feel to it, even if its become part of the stage show.

The visuals and lighting worked out quite great. Unfortunately for Sharon Van Etten, there was a heavy spot light on her, that had you seeing dots in your eyes after about 5 seconds. But that was gone, thankfully! With the backdrop screen of images of the band members and the crowd, you were always able to see the entire band and the guests.

It was great to hear them introduce Sharon Van Etten who came out for a proper encore with them on ‘Think You Can Wait’. And from that they went straight into ‘Fake Empire’ which always sounds amazing live. Other highlights included ‘Abel’, but really to the girls behind me, how do you talk through that whole song. The crowd was revved up and peoples hands in the air and singing along. It is one of my favorite songs performed live along with ‘Mr. November’. Sure, theres songs I didnt get to hear ‘Mistaken for Strangers’, but with all the times Ive seen them, I seriously cant complain.

Easily the very last song was the crowning moment. The band had left the stage only to come back center stage with Annie Clark, Sharon Van Etten, and of course, Wye Oak. I wasnt entirely sure it was them but it sure was! ‘Vanderlyle Crybaby Geeks’ was just beautiful. Sans microphones and the entire band huddled together was a pretty awesome way to end the night.

And while Ive mentioned her a few times, I can say that Sharon Van Etten always sounds amazing! She has some of the strongest vocals. Her songs are great and kick-ass and her new guitar, oh yeah, looking pretty sweet. And of course, it meant we were treated for a song or two with Aaron Dessner. The pair of them make beautiful music together.

For those hoping for one last time, (for now), its highly recommended. The shows arent sold out and theres an abundance of tickets around. Not that Im one to actually promote using stubhub or the like, but since theres so many shows now, it seems you can get same day tix for $17. Either way, if you havent yet seen them, there still is time.

Setlist:
Start a War
Brainy
Bloodbuzz Ohio
Squalor Victoria
Afraid of Everyone
Conversation 16
Rylan
Abel
Lit Up
Wasp Nest
Sorrow
Anyone’s Ghost
I Need My Girl
England
Mr. November

Think You Can Wait
Fake Empire
Terrible Love
Vanderlyle Crybaby Geeks

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Double Rainbows and Beirut Oh My!

Posted by xneverwherex on June 21, 2011

Beirut
Sharon Van Etten
Yellow Ostrich
McCarren Park
6/17/11

What could have turned into a miserable evening, with a huge rainstorm that dampened us all, turned out to be one of the most lovely evenings in Brooklyn. To get it out of the way – yes there was a double rainbow. My friends had been looking for rainbows after the storm had passed and soon enough theyre screaming ‘OH MY GOD. Its.A.Double.Rainbow. Film.It!’ No, there was no way in hell we were recreating that video. But, yes, there was indeed a double rainbow and lots of rain!

Beirut (Zach Condon and Co.) played an amazing set. Not playing with a full orchestra (oh how I miss your church shows), he did have 4-5 other guys playing with him doing double duty on the instruments. Playing in the outside, facing the Empire State Building and the Chrysler Building, their sounds filled the nighttime air. People living nearby came out to listen to the show from their roofdecks. Their new songs sound so beautiful, that I had forgotten how much I had loved their music.

People were in good spirits, but I was surprised that more people werent dancing at all. A lot of people just stood with their arms crossed looking bored out of their minds. The setlist contained many of their staples with “Postcards From Italy,” “Sunday Smile”, “Elephant Gun,” “Nantes,” “Scenic World,” and “Mount Wroclai”. Their indie/gypsy/balkan/romanian sound makes for a good change from the many same-sounding bands in Brooklyn. The horns are always such a great addition for most bands. They played for about an hour and 15 minutes and had an encore with just Zach Condon playing “The Escape” which he noted he hadnt played in a very long time. It was a beautiful way to end the night.

Sharon Van Etten was an incredible opener. I had only known her by name, but a friend had told me her voice is amazing. That cant even possibly describe her strong vocal performance. She hurried her way through a set which seemed like it was over way too soon. She thanked her Dad (it was Fathers Day that Sunday) for coming all the way out from New Jersey. And along the way thanked her other family members for coming out to support her. Towards the end of her set she brought out Ben Lanz and Aaron Dessner of The National. He is producing her latest album and he added some guitar to her songs.

Yellow Ostrich started out the show and I must have had them confused with another similar sounding band name. I was pretty sure it was just one person, but turns out it was a full band. They were really good and had some really catchy songs. They seemed excited to be playing towards a bigger audience.

It was a great combination of bands. All of them were really good and it was definitely a show where you would not want to have missed any of them. I will definitely be checking out Sharon Van Etten again soon. Ive seen her name all over the place, but after hearing that, she is fully worthy of the hype.

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BAM! Halloween w/The Deal Sisters and Dessner Brothers

Posted by xneverwherex on November 1, 2009

10/31/09

The Long Count – a multimedia piece by Aaron & Bryce Dessner (of The National) and artist Matthew Ritchie at BAM (Brooklyn Academy of Music) in Fort Greene, Brooklyn.

Oddly enough – a preview for the movie 2012 came up on my television. Ironic in the sense that its based on this premise that the Mayan calendar ends at 2012 and theres a lot of speculation what will happen at the end of the world.

And this is part of the idea behind The Long Count. The Long Count is based on a narrative poem titled the Popol Vuh about the hero twins and how the Long Count began. Its hard to explain, and I remember learning about this when studying Latin American Studies in college. It was long ago but this still makes sense in its own way.

This combines the World Series of baseball (1975/1976 – the year the Dessners were born) when the Reds vs Yankees were playing in the playoffs. Interestingly, the Yankees are playing again right now. The Mayan ball game was also a huge part of life although the losing team played a far higher price (beheadings were all too common). The beheading is also how the twins were born.

All of this leads to the idea of time and space and the way they believed in time and the power of the Sun/Moon and the earth and the way cycles work. And the idea of twins play heavily into this – they were very revered.

In this case, one set of twins, the Dessners, inspired another more famous set of twins (the Deals) to all come together and to work on this performance piece. What transpires has to be the most innovative show Ive seen in a long time. Easily my favorite show of this year. The art is massive and dark and invokes feelings of blood and earth and cycles. Things come, go, and move onward. Then you add the lovely Shara Worden whose voice was made for this and she invokes the goddess Venus as she sings about the sun and the moon. Her voice is powerful and strong and in the headdress youre moved into another world.

The Deal sisters add a whole nother pow to the show. Kim Deal’s voice is incredible and raw and add the violin pounding of Kelley and kabam! Its intense and the screeching of it hits you hard.

The real treat is the orchestra. Each person is beyond talented and if you read the bios have played with artists like the Arcade Fire. The violins are powerful, the saxophone is intense and the guy in front of me hitting the keys hard of the piano helps take you to this other world.

The music and lyrics are mostly written by the Dessners and its hard not to argue that they might be the most talented guys out there. I was fortunate to get to see them talking with Matthew Ritchie of the making of this art performance. It was interesting the way they came up with the idea and where it was going to go. They are talented guys who have transcended far beyond The National.

All I can really add – if this ever does a worldwide tour, it’d behoove you not to see it. The National are great to see (and Matt does perform one song – and his low voice might have been one of the best voices of the night) but this takes everything to a far greater place. Besides who wouldnt want to see the Deal sisters along with the Dessners together. It was insanely awesome!

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