The National @ Terminal 5
I was invited to go see The National the other night with my friend Emily. This was the opening night of a new venue in midtown west / hell's kitchen called Terminal 5. I had high hopes for the place because its owned by the Bowery Ballroom people who have the best venues in NYC. The venue was in kind of a warehouse district on the far West edge of Manhattan. It was really great inside, 2 upper tiers, excellent sound. Not all that different from the Bowery Ballroom setup which is perfect.
The opening act was this girl who goes by the name St. Vincent. I liked her. She performed solo with an electric guitar with various distortion pedals and a drum machine. In some ways she reminded me of Tom Vek + Feist. Her voice was beautiful similar to Feist, but St. Vincent is more arty and unpredictible which I liked. Sometimes adding crazy effects and loud distortion. She also switched back and forth to a second microphone with an effect that sounded like a tinny Billie Holiday. Overall, enjoyable performance.
The 6 members of The National appeared on stage not long after that. I was expecting them to have more beards, but only the drummer did. They played all my favorite songs and they sounded better live. I had read there are twin brothers in the band, I think they were the 2 guitar players. The lead singer was a taller blonde fellow, I like his voice a lot. It took awhile for the first album to grow on me last year but then I liked it from then on.
Fake Empire, the first track on their current album, Boxer, was outstanding. The dynamics of well done live sound engineering and the acoustics of the space were just right for their sound. They had a 2 piece brass section that came in for several songs including this one that added the perfect touch. I had wondered on the recorded version if it was just a synthesizer or something, but its really a trumpet and trombone.
I would definitely go see The National live again. This may be the second best live show this year I've seen next to LCD Soundsystem. I would also recommend Terminal 5. Its much, much better than the Roseland Ballroom which is a few blocks from where I work. Roseland is more expensive, too big, bad sound (at least the show I went to). Bowery Ballroom just does live music the right way. I'm glad they were able to expand into this new venue and bring more great shows.