The National in SoCal

I got to see The National twice this spring, relatively close to home. In March they played at the Shrine in LA and I got pit tickets! It was the premiere of Mistaken for Strangers so I got to see the movie a third time and then The National played a whole set. And Tom even wrangled Matt's mic cord during the walkabout in honor of the night! And I passed their parents as I walked through the orchestra so I waved at them. Yea Berningers! 

In April the band played at the Santa Barbara Bowl. So. Rad. Even though it was cold, windy and rainy, the weather suits them. It really is becoming a leitmotif when I see them. After seeing the setlists from the multi-night stands they did in Chicago and Austin (why the hell didn't I see them in Austin!?) I was hoping for a bunch of rarities, but with a 10pm curfew they only had time for one. But it was Santa Clara! The one bummer was that Matt could barely be heard down front for most of the show, but we just sang along anyway and it was like The National karaoke. Despite the lack of alcohol consumption, there may've been some "woo"ing on my part as well. Sorry.

Special thanks to Jim for getting me Matt's setlist from both nights. He really is the best.

It Takes an Ocean.

After seeing The National in Seattle last year, all I wanted to do was see them again. This is how I work. See a band, love them, need to see them again. And again, ad infinitum. So looking at their tour schedule my best options were Aspen or Honolulu in January. The show in Aspen was appealing because of the tiny venue, but the expense and logistics were prohibitive. Also, snow. I like it in the abstract, but in this instance it was likely to be a hinderance.

So that left Hawaii. At first I was only daydreaming, but the more research I did, the more plausible it became. So I made it happen.

I only spent two and a half days in Oahu, so I had very little time to play tourist, but I managed to squeeze in a walk on Waikiki, a hike in the mountains and a tour of the northern part of the island. The show, as always, was the priority though. Of course.

I did the usual, showed up ridiculously early, first in line, eavesdropped on soundcheck (OMG Matt sang Apartment Story a cappella). The weather was grey and damp, so, fitting. I had drinks at the bar before doors, my favourite being one called "Bearded Dude", quite appropriate for the show. There was no opener, just TN. Really, what else do you need? Although if Shearwater could open for them… that would be prefect.

Anyway, nothing too unusual in the setlist, only two songs I hadn't heard live before, Hard to Find and Lean. But Lean was the one I was really hoping to hear and </3. Totally. And even though the rest of the set was familiar, it felt amazing to hear those songs live. Some things don't get old. I have to admit I sang along much more and a lot more loudly than was strictly decent. But I cried along with those songs last year, they were a solace then and hearing them now is a relief, a release and just a fierce unholy joy, like the sudden blaze of an exploding star.

Okay, a bit melodramatic, but whatever. There's not much like singing along with Terrible Love while trying to steady Matt Berninger as he climbs over the rail.