Friday, June 20, 2014

The National @ Prospect Park

The National; MS MR
@ Prospect Park Bandshell
Brooklyn, NY - June 19, 2014

Years ago, when I was really going full speed to be "with it", I also had this laughable attempt at trying to act like an adult. One night I failed miserably at attempting being an adult by telling a beloved rock n roll musician I'd come to know personally somewhat that I was now acting like an adult. And the example I gave was that I was now listening to the National. Let's not dwell on his reaction (he got the last laugh though, I now spend my days in the office blasting hardcore punk and garage rock).

Now some years later, I'm still viewing the National through the prism of "this is what it means to be an adult". Seeing them on the eve of my 33rd birthday really put that into gear. For whatever reason 33 is the number for me. Put up or shut up time. Maybe that's the Hold Steady's fault because I heard "Stevie Nix" and the line "to be 33 forever" back at that time when I was failing at starting adulthood while listening to the National.

There is something definitely mature about the National. Even when they started. They have never seemed like they were ever kids doing this. That's disjointed. Rock n Roll is not supposed to be mature. Yet they are a rock n roll band. And they've always managed to convince us/you/me of that when they play live. This night in their old backyard particularly brought that out. Early pre-Alligator song(s) somewhat got there, Trouble Will Find Me album cuts somewhat got there, but big wide swaths of the inbetweens never sounded more authoritative - "Secret Meeting", "Fake Empire", "England", "Bloodbuzz, Ohio". It wasn't my completely ideal setlist, but what they played they played ideally.

And as for all this adulthood business, perhaps the bigger question is what's so mature about the National? Maybe it's the strong classical musical sense the Dessners bring to the table. Maybe it's Matt Berninger's seemingly sensible but ultimately ridiculous (in a wonderful way) lyrics. The nonsensical ramblings of a goof ball (an admittedly imposing goof ball sometimes). Now having having seen them so soon after Bloomsday, and on the eve of turning 33, I was left with a wonderfully mixed up feeling of lyrical silliness, playful seriousness, and maybe just finally a tinge of adulthood and what it should really be like. Or not.
MS MR came out and I thought "dour goth thing". Nope. Guitar-less groove music by enthusiastic happy go lucky go getters. Good covers, especially LCD Soundsystem's "Dance Yrself Clean". 


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