The National @ 9:30 Club [5/24/09 – Early Show]

It seems like every time I post pictures after a show and promise to write something the next day, I never do it. So in an effort to make this blog something other than a mediocre-concert photo blog, here are some quick thoughts about tonight’s early National show at the 9:30 Club.

Thought #1: I hope that The National isn’t falling into the same trap that Wilco has fallen into the last few years – i.e., playing nearly identical sets night after night and tour after tour. Yeah, they did play three new songs (all of which sounded great), but beyond that it was pretty much the exact same setlist we’ve seen them play for a few years now, with only one song that I can recall pre-dating Alligator (“All The Wine”). I’m fine if they feel they need to play “Abel” and “Mr. November” every night, but I sure would love to hear “Cold Girl Fever”, “Theory of the Crows”, or “Slipping Husband” at some point.

Thought #2: Speaking of songs I’d love to hear, I was really disappointed that they didn’t play either “Santa Clara” from last year’s Virginia EP or “So Far Around The Bend” off of the recent Dark Was The Night compilation. Personally, I think those are two of the best songs the band has written, and I’ve been looking forward to seeing them live for a while. Guess I’ll have to wait a while longer.

Thought #3: The band is currently touring with a full-time 3-piece horn section, which includes opening act Colin Stetson on saxophone. While it’s an interesting idea, it was a little uneven in execution. There were songs where I thought the horns sounded great (e.g., “About Today”), but there were far more where I found that they overwhelmed the rest of the music (e.g., “Slow Show”). I’m sure this was more of an issue with the mix than anything, but I do hope they work it out before too long.

Thought #4: Who’s in charge of the air conditioning at the 9:30 Club, and why haven’t they been fired? It was unbearably hot in the club tonight.  It didn’t take a whole lot to figure out that a sold out club + 80 degree weather + 90% humidity would make things uncomfortable without A/C.  Yet the A/C was either turned off or barely functioning.  To be fair, I suppose I need to look at the 9:30 Club a long-term project – to their credit, I think they’ve improved the sound on the floor quite a bit in the last year, and they’ve also greatly increased sight-lines by moving the PAs.  I can only hope that the A/C is next on the list of things to fix.

Sunday 24 May 2009 at 11:37 pm by Steve


  1. Comment by heather — May 25, 2009 @ 2:30 pm

    thanks for the write up and photos, steve. i was at the show as well and enjoyed it. it was the second time seeing them (first being when they opened for REM last summer), so i’m not as sick as the repetitive setlists as you might be. agree about the horns though.

    regarding the AC– fo’ real! i was at the shins a couple weeks ago, and it seemed like the AC was off until midway through the show. there’s little i hate more than being uncomfortably warm during an indoor show (for no good reason)!

  2. Pingback by Two Doses of The National « Wonderstad — May 27, 2009 @ 6:41 pm

    […] for Modest Mouse and R.E.M. at Merriweather Post in 2008), so definitely don’t share the set list feedback some voiced. Both shows were heavy on Boxer, but given it’s an excellent album, I’ve […]

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