Wednesday, June 9, 2010

What All the Bloodbuzz Is About: The National/The Antlers @ D.A.R.

The National are huge. Somehow they have become the biggest name in indie rock complete with a #3 Billboard spot.  But it took free tickets to a phenomenal show to win over the Frontier Capitolist. Last Sunday, the FC, DC hipsters and the Daughters of the American Revolution had their souls rocked. Here is their story.

The show at the D.A.R. Constitution Hall was the fifth of nearly 75 on this tour. If The National had any early-tour jitters, they were brushed aside early. The show pushed off with an unlikely opener, “Runaway,” one of High Violet’s more despondent tracks, as understated soft lights and disco balls projected upon a cyclorama provided an ethereal backdrop. Moving through more popular and upbeat tracks like “Bloodbuzz, Ohio” and “Abel,” we saw a side of the band not often apparent on recordings: they rock.

When the band was hitting on all cylinders they were riled up and flaring, along with the crowd. Eventually the fourth wall shattered when singer Matt Berninger walked throughout the 3,700-person venue. We’ve all seen messianic frontmen join the crowd, but when Berninger did, we believed he might save us, up to the moment when he screamed right in that girl’s face: “I won’t fuck us over, I’m Mr. November.”

The venue's acoustics allowed those of us at the top to hear every instrument and feel the band as a whole. The National have to be one of the tightest live bands going, thanks to the clean and precise yet creative brotherly rhythm section of Scott and Bryan Devendorf and twins Bryce and Aaron Dessner. On songs like “Geese of Beverly Road,” keyboard, violin, trombone and trumpet fleshed out the sound to a level not always reached on their records.

After 23 songs, mostly from their last three records, the audience was left percolating together from the encore, unusual given the guarded nature of DC crowds. Blood still buzzing, the FC finally understands what you all have been trying to get him to see for years. Took him long enough.

The National were joined by another Brooklyn act, The Antlers, who released one of last year's darkest indie records: Hospice. A concept album of love and loss set in the Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center, Hospice thrives on emotional connection. Unfortunately, the entering D.A.R. crowd was a bit restless for The Antlers, and their set suffered. This is not to say the three-piece didn’t play their hearts out, changing the soundscapes of their songs to suit their live show. The Antlers can perform, but a smaller venue with a fully engaged audience may be more appropriate.

All-in-all, we wish The National and Antlers luck on this robust tour. Catch it in your town.

The National - Bloodbuzz, Ohio (DAR Constitution Hall, Washington, D.C. 6/6/10)

Setlist: Runaway, Mistaken For Strangers, Anyone’s Ghost, Bloodbuzz, Ohio, Secret Meeting, Slow Show, Squalor Victoria, Afraid of Everyone, Little Faith, All The Wine, Available, Conversation 16, Apartment Story, The Geese of Beverly Road, Abel, Daughters of the Soho Riots, England, Fake Empire // Karen, Lemonworld, Mr. November, Terrible Love, About Today

Thanks to Brightest Young Things and Dakota Fine for the photos.


1 comment:

  1. one more note about The Antlers: i can't imagine playing those songs over and over again like they do. aside from experiencing and writing them over 2 years, Peter Silberman needs to relive them every single night. talk about a weight upon you.