Friday, October 27, 2006

Concert Review: The National @ The Black Cat 10-26-06

Last night I got to see The National at the Black Cat for the second time in a year. They opened their March leg of their tour in DC as well a few months after releasing Alligator. My initial worry was that the band’s songs, so personal and emotional, would lose a bit of their punch after months of touring. I was totally wrong. They had incredible energy, and singer Matt Berninger was clearly in the proper headspace as he sang, and screamed, at the top of his lungs with his eyes closed; grasping the microphone for dear life while staggering around the stage. After one song, “Abel”, I think he was actually shaking when he was done.

One possible reason for the great energy (besides just the fact they are fantastic live band) might be that the band hadn’t played in several weeks and this appears to be the last show they will play before their new album comes out early next year. They played a few new songs (and resisted the urge to announce they were new to the crowd). All appeared to be a bit tamer compared to the Alligator material, but that could just be because they were more careful playing them and haven’t really figured out their ins-and-outs yet. I liked several of them instantly. Another great motivator for the band must have been the crowd. When Mrs. Hops and I saw them in March I wrote in my All You Need Is Hops review “It’s so nice to see a small band in a small club giving it everything they have. You know they aren't huge rock stars who don't understand how lucky they are to have an audience.” Well this time around the crowd was WAY more into the show where last time we felt only a few people were really rocking out. They played a lot of the songs off of Alligator and the crowd really responded and you could even hear them sing along on several occasions. In between each song they were getting a dozens of song requests from the crowd. Quite a jump in popularity since they last time they played the Black Cat. Highlights of the show included a great version of “Wasp’s Nest”(affectionately referred to as “the jingle bell song” by the girl next to me) which morphed into a rocking “Murder Me Rachael”, “Abel”, “All the Wine”, “Mr. November” and of course “Secret Meeting”. Frankly, the entire show was awesome, big thumbs up! Everyone should go see them when they stop by your city.

As for the openers the night got off to a decent start with a band call The Devastations from Australia. As far as openers go they were enjoyable. When they decided to rock out I definitely dug their sound. I was less interested in some of their slower songs. Either way its tough playing a fairly empty room two hours before the headliner gets on (The National didn’t get on until 11:15 … I’m old). A bit hit and miss, but they have some potential.

The middle band was a DC based outfit called Nethers. I really enjoyed their set. They feature four members, including a female lead singer. I appreciate the fact they didn’t really fall into any rock clich├ęs at all and had their own sound, which was still accessible. Their songs had structure but they still jammed them out creating a sometimes dissonant atmospheric sound (that is supposed to be a compliment). I would have even bought a CD after the show but I was 12:45 and I needed to get home. Luckily you can buy their album via iTunes and on their website. You can also stream the album for free which I recommend doing. I listened once before the show but I really appreciate it more now – I sign of a good live band. In fact, I’m listening right now.


Hops said...

Hops said...

Hops said...

both those are links to other reviews