Tuesday, March 25, 2014

The National, March 25 at the Shrine

If the National are playing in L.A., we're probably there.  Though we might have missed this show since we'd just seen them at Outside Lands a few months before, but that wasn't a full set, and it was a bit shambolic, and seeing them at a venue more intimate than an open field is more appropriate for them.  Besides, the tickets were a Christmas present for Carla, and we knew we'd probably have ended up there anyway.  This was something like a one-off, somewhere outside of their tour, or the premiere of their Mistaken for Strangers documentary -- and what better way for a band to premiere a movie about them than to do a show?  The movie may not have gone far released in a theater but at least they could show it and knock out a performance afterwards, for the premiere if not as promotion.  And they got the chance to play the Shrine at the same time, a venue just right for them.  A small place might be too tiny to hold their sound (we missed the Troubadour show), the main stage a festival is too big (and usually too sunny), and the Wiltern, with its general admission area for the floor, could potentially leave the crowd too restless.  Here they could control the setting of the environment, and especially the mood-lighting, to get it right for appreciative fans.  This is music where you're only jumping up and down because you're so excited to be in front of them.  Which we were, and though we'd seen most of the songs, they seemed to have done an extra-long set, presumably as a send-off to that leg of the tour before the rest.  Regardless, it felt like a bit of an extra-special show (though every one of their shows we've seen has been special).  The band seemed a bit tired, though their music can be mistaken as lethargic when it's atmospheric, and those dudes are about our age.  The Shrine seemed packed, but this was probably the first time I'd not been in my seat and waiting for the band to go on so I got to see how many people can be milling about right before a show.  Those beers weren't worth missing the first song or two but the rest of it made up for it.  And we didn't get there early enough to see the documentary, so maybe we missed the point of the show itself (and maybe we would have had more of a chance seeing if it if it had been released widely in theaters), but we still got to sneak in another performance by one of our favorites.

The National's set-list:
"Don't Swallow the Cap"
"I Should Live in Salt"
"Mistaken for Strangers"
"Bloodbuzz Ohio"
"Sea of Love"
"Hard to Find"
"Afraid of Everyone"
"Squalor Victoria"
"I Need My Girl"
"This Is the Last Time"
"All the Wine" (stopped)
"Slow Show"
"Pink Rabbits"
"Fake Empire"

"Mr. November"
"Terrible Love"
"Vanderlyle Crybaby Geeks" (acoustic)