I Prefer The Obscure Remix Blog

High treason. They’ll have my head for this!


So I just got back from The National. Yes, I caved and went. This is rapidly turning into a blog on live music, or confessions of a gig-goer. Maybe I should change the name to Belle De Tour! Anyway, I really wanted to see them, as I think they’re an intriguing band. They’re not the type of band you’d ever expect to hear on daytime radio, and their songs are generally left of centre, but somehow they’ve managed to hit the bigtime in Ireland, relatively speaking. I was a massive fan of Alligator, and I think Boxer and Sad Songs For Dirty Lovers are pretty good too. For me, it’s all about the drummer (Bryan Devendorf), and to a lesser extent, the singer (Matt Berninger). Take away either of these and I think The National would be an average band. Berninger has an interesting voice, coupled with compelling yet opaque lyrics. The drummer, Bevendorf, has a unique style that really propells the songs, and his rhythms develop and evolve throughout the tracks. He always seems to teeter on the brink of overdoing things, but somehow manages to remain in control, and maintain a consistent level of subtlety. But tonight you couldn’t really hear him, and on record the drums are always really high in the mix, so that was a real disappointment. The singer, Berninger, didn’t really know what to do with himself when he wasn’t called into action, so he generally elected to stand with his back to the audience (not very compelling). I thought the gig was very good but not great, and I expected great. I was surprised by the crowd’s reaction to Fake Empire, but I probably shouldn’t be. It went down really well, but I can’t help thinking it would only be one of the weaker tracks if it had appeared on Alligator. The first hour of the gig seemed like a lesson in restraint, and it was only the last 5-6 songs (when they seemed to loosen up, enjoy themselves, and let go) that I felt really worked. Saying that, it was great to hear Secret Meeting second in the set. I still think it’s their finest moment, and a perfect example of singer and drummer at their best. If you don’t believe me check out youtube, there are clips of drummers trying to play along with the beat. The beat might sound pedestrian, but it’s really intricate and clever. That must sound so pretentious, but it’s all subjective. People like the same band for different reasons, and these are mine. It’s only an opinion, and I know I was in the minority tonight as most people thought it was amazing.

I missed St. Vincent but I heard she was very good, and really fit (thanks Pedro!).

November 2, 2007 - Posted by | Dublin, live, Music, Olympia Theatre, Personal, The National


  1. That chap on youtube is a bit all over the shop, eh?

    Comment by Rin Tin Tin | November 2, 2007 | Reply

  2. That he is Rin. Were you at the gig last night yourself?

    Comment by i prefer the obscure remix | November 2, 2007 | Reply

  3. I thought they were great.
    Matt is a fucking awesome front-man.
    After all of these years, touring hardcore like a motherfucker, he still gets shy and turns his back to the crowd when he isn’t singing.
    That’s the beauty of this band…very articulate with no pretentiousness.

    Seriously though, St Vincent was brilliant live. That crazy voicebox she sung into occasionally rocked! And she is ridiculously hot too. The gig on the 24th will be pretty damn sweet.

    Comment by Pedro | November 2, 2007 | Reply

  4. You’re right, Devendorf the drummer is amazing. The rhythms are so varied and rich. Loved the cloth on one of his drums, nice muted, muffley sound.

    St. Vincent was brilliant. My brother was also in love with her…

    Comment by Sinéad | November 2, 2007 | Reply

  5. Pedro – Matt has nothing to be shy or insecure about. His band are doing really well, and he’d just sold out two big venues in a small country. He didn’t look that shy when the crowd were holding him aloft in a God-like manner.
    Sinead – Devendorf was the first thing that attracted me to The National, and he’s still the most interesting thing about the band. For me anyway.
    Wish I’d seen St.Vincent, not crazy about the album, but i’ll go to Sugar Club on the strength of so many good recommendations. You reckon that could get bumped up to a bigger venue? Now the word of mouth has started.

    Comment by i prefer the obscure remix | November 2, 2007 | Reply

  6. Whoa, I never diagnosed him with insecurity issues. I just think that he still doesn’t look comfortable being the main man up on the stage – which is why I like him even more as a frontman.
    Tom Smith is a cunt, I don’t like him or his antics.

    Comment by Pedro | November 2, 2007 | Reply

  7. Your blog/diary of a gig-goer is making me insanely jealous. It’s been so long since anyone half decent played in Rome. I’d have loved to see the National.

    Comment by red | November 5, 2007 | Reply

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