Friday, October 12, 2007

The National at Terminal 5 Last Night

Craig, Rich & I went to check out The National & the new venue, Terminal 5 last night... I had wanted to catch St. Vincent live too, but we only got there in time for her last song. Seems like she really did start on time! Bummer, but to be honest, the few minutes I did hear were disappointing. I don't know whether it was just that her mic wasn't turned up high enough or whether the sound was intentional, but the song was really electric, with her singing like an afterthought shadowing the guitar, in a not good way. I like her album, her voice, her guitar talent, her songwriting ... anyway, I think I'd like to see her in a different setting. The Terminal 5 (industrial, steel cold), two minute version of Annie Clark was not what I expected.

So, yeah, Terminal 5... industrial, steel cold, cavernous (3 ridiculously high floors), still kinda feels like a construction site, excepting the random chandeliers... the good news is that the soundsystem is MUCH better than say, ha, Webster Hall's. No, really, the system is good. The place definitely has an urban club feel. It's huge - bigger than I expected and bigger than I'd really prefer. Maybe I'm getting old or something, but I really go for Bowery Ballroom and smaller these days. The sight lines are good at Terminal 5 though - have to give them credit for that. Except of course when the 6'5" dude forces space for himself in the spot right in front of me, just as the set begins - which seems to happen to me at every show I go to lately. From afar, they don't see me and think there's an open space there and then claim to not be able to leave. Being short sucks.

SO, the National: it was the first time I saw them live somehow (they've only played like a hundred shows in NYC in the past year), and I enjoyed their performance. I expected to be blown away, because I love their latest album, and I wasn't exactly blown away, but they're definitely a solid band. Rich "liked them, but didn't love them". Matt Berninger kind of came across as mumbling many of his lyrics live - and sort of spill-speaking them instead of singing them more often than I would have liked. Rich's take is that he relies too much on the tone/style of his voice more than his actual voice/singing - that may be fair. Overall, though, the band as a whole is a great combo of Dylanesque, pared-down grit and substance and U2 larger than life orchestration and inspiration. Old and new. Crazy violinist, reliable drummer, guitars that can both wail and lullaby, and sometimes (my perennial fav), slick horns. I'm not obsessed, like some in the audience CLEARLY are - but I dig.

1 comment:

arik said...

You are living the life, my dear r-few, living the life, I tell you. I didn't really understnad much of this post, which only means I should get my ass back to NYC and start following the music scene.

FYI, the hottest thing in Europe right now is early 80s disco, in sound and picture... Here are a couple of examples:

Fun, huh? A bit derivative, though, no? Minnesota's own Har Mar Superstar did it right back in 2004: