the national

Concert Review: The National, June 8th, Massey Hall

Posted on by Ricky in Concerts, Everything | 3 Comments

Toronto – Welcome to part 2 of my review of Tuesday night’s show. Part 1, featuring the Antlers, can be found here

Fake Empires, Mistaken For Strangers, Bloodbuzz Ohio, Albel, Lit Up, Karen, Mr. November

These are the songs from the National I can name off the top of my head. Needless to say, I am not overly familiar with their material. However, I know a hot ticket when I see it, so when the National announced they were playing two shows at Massey Hall, I felt like I had to go. I had gotten myself acquainted with most of the bands material before the show, but like that random stranger you meet at a house party, I could only scratch the surface of what the band was about before the show.

First of all, let me tell you, Massey Hall, your basement bathroom area is a death trap during intermission. If there was a fire, everyone down there will DIE. No clue why I thought about this during that time, it’s probably the effects of aging.

Anyways, shortly after 9:20, the band took the stage to a rapturous applause. I was surprised by the size of the band, when I saw them at the Horseshoe back in the day, they were a much smaller band (and also, they still claimed to be from Cincinnati, instead of Brooklyn). Accompanying them was a horns section and a multi-instrumentalist named Padma. He played violin, piano and all sorts of stuff. I can confirm that having a horn and strings section really helps add depth and amplifies the sound. Makes songs sound more epic. I like epic.

The band started off with the track Runaway, off their new album, High Violet. The stage had some nice lighting for this song, including two shiny disco balls set on the floor that provided some trippy effect. Sadly, they never utilized the disco balls again. Matt Berninger’s baritone voice carries so well in Massey Hall. The song was quickly followed by fan favorite Mistaken For Strangers and then another new song, Anyone’s Ghost, to which he said

Matt: The following song is a new song. Wait.. so was the first one. Nevermind

I found that to be rather humourous. After the third song, the photographers had to scram (usual 3 song photo limit) and sensing that this might be a sit down show, Matt quickly went into the crowd encouraging everyone to stand up, and as usual per Massey Hall show, everyone then made a beeline for the front. On a side note, I know a few of my respected colleagues are concert photographers, but it is pretty funny watching them scurry around each other when you are far away. Just sayin. They do a good job though.

The rest of the 2 hour set consisted of the band taking much of material from their most recent albums. As a casual fan, I was impressed at how good they sounded, but some of the songs did sound kinda-samey. I guess this is what you get when the lead singers delivery is so unique. Having said that, Berninger is a great front man, he has good crowd banter, is intense when he needs to be and humourous when the moment calls for that. He can scream the hell out of the microphone as well. I think in another life, Matt Berninger could have either been a college professor or a ship captain.

Highlights for me included all the songs I knew and especially the song Abel, which featured Matt heading directly into the crowd on what must be the world’s longest microphone cord. He could have went to Frans and ordered a corn beef sandwich if he wanted, the chord was that long. He would later repeat the trick for the encore performance of Mr. November, which I had mistaken told Paul was called ‘Ms October‘. Yup, music expert here!

All in all, a great night of music at Massey Hall. My ears were ringing. I thought Massey Hall had volume control, so I didn’t bring earplugs, but let me tell you, it was definitely worth it. Go check them out tonight. They might play Lit Up.

I shazammed all the songs while at the concert to come up with this play list.

Mistaken For Strangers
Anyone’s Ghost
Bloodbuzz Ohio
Secret Meeting
Slow Show
Squalor Victoria
Afraid Of Everyone
Little Faith
All The Wine
Conversation 16
Apartment Song
The Geese of Beverly Road
Daughters Of The Soho Riots
Fake Empire

90-Mile Water Wall
Mr. November
Terrible Love

About Today

Just kidding, I got it off

The National – Conversation 16 by wereofftherails

Concert Review: The Antlers, June 8th, Massey Hall

Posted on by Ricky in Concerts | 4 Comments

Toronto – Just like a really long Quentin Tarantino movie, I’m breaking this concert review into two parts.

The other day, whilst at work in the middle of some hardcore coding (my day job), something dawned on me.. Tuesday night will be my fourth time seeing The Antlers. Have I seen any band more then four times? I then quickly switched to this site, took a look at my concert list, did some thinking, did some counting, and quickly realized – no, I have never seen a band more then 4 times in a row. I then checked my fantasy sports teams, read some random wikipedia articles, watched some 80s tv sitcom intros on youtube, made some snarky comments on people’s status updates on facebook, wrote a post on the blog and then I went back to more hardcore coding. It’s so weird to think that Tuesday night was the fourth time I had seen the band the Antlers, seeing how at this time last year, I had never heard of them. I believe it was Allison who first realized how good this Brooklyn band was, and how great their debut album Hospice was. I was then slowly converted, ever so skeptical of my fellow PM writer’s musical taste. Well, as it turns out, she was right and I have taken to this band like a mongoose to a cobra.

So Tuesday night was my fourth time seeing the Antlers. They were at Massey Hall opening for The National. I had arrived earlier then expected, and thus was able to soak in the atmosphere of a somewhat empty Massey Hall. The architecture in that place is quite nice. I like the nice arching roof. I was reminded of that fight scene in Bioshock. You know the one. The band took the stage shortly after 8 to a pretty empty crowd. It was a good thing that the lights were dimmed because then the band could imagine that they were playing to a packed house. Much like a horse with blinders.

The band played a stellar 45 minute set, featuring the songs from Hospice. It was great to hear them in the Massey Hall setting, because unlike their quiet-ish album, the Antlers live set consist of a massive wall of sound. There is a constant feedback kinda sound (much like a jet engine) throughout the set save for the more tender moments (Bear, some parts of Two). The set seemed to start off slowly, as the band was feeling their way out on the massive stage. Massey Hall’s stage is a large space, especially for a 3 person setup. They seemed to hit their stride with the song Bear, which as always, was great. The outro for the song featured about five minutes of noise layering on top of more noise that tested the volume limits of the venue. I think the crowd who didn’t know the band was in kind of shock over the amount of volume that the threesome was generated. By this time, the place was starting to fill up.

Their standout track Two followed shortly after. As I had stated in my sxsw review of this band, this song live is a bit different then on record. The song starts off with a choir-ish oos before the music plays and then is followed by a brisk chance of tempo that moves the song along at a much quicker pace then that of the album, still really good. Ending the set with the song Wake, the band delivered a great and heavy set that wowed anyone who was there, as evident by the massive applause that they got after their set.

I don’t think you can ask for anymore for an opener.

The Antlers – Bear by gpferrero

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