The National Brings Trouble to Ithaca

Not real trouble, just their excellent 6th album release, Trouble Will Find Me. The melancholic rockers have a penchant for making doldrums sound so damn good and have created yet another great album with Trouble.  The NYC based band,  Aaron (guitar and keyboard) and Bryce Dessner (guitar), Scott (bass) and Bryan Devendorf (drums) and singer Matt Berninger, began their North American tour is Ithaca, NY and treated us to a long set of music and this Blurter was there to capture it all!

For their sixth LP, Trouble Will Find Me, The National began their tour to a sold out audience at Ithaca’s State Theatre. Taking place before the album’s release date, fans reacted most eagerly to songs from albums past; however, the general audience reception was unfortunately muted, with only scattered pockets of highly enthused spectators. Perhaps it was the-curse-of-the-seated-venue, the lack of older favorites, or the fact it was a Thursday night that led to a calm audience, because the talented quartet put on a solid performance with great visuals.

As Aaron (guitar and keyboard) and Bryce Dessner (guitar), Scott (bass) and Bryan Devendorf (drums) and a wine glass-brandishing singer Matt Berninger graced the stage the audience cheered and applauded. A large monitor filled the stage behind the band; abstract shapes in bold colors and live close up shots of the band performing, with a washed-out, photonegative effect, filled the screen. Of their 21 song setlist, The National played half old and half new material. Trouble Will Find Me proves to be an overall calmer affair than previous releases, prompting the audience to sit for the quieter moments and, during the faster paced older material, dart out of the seats. “Mistaken for Strangers,” “Fake Empire,” “Afraid of Everyone,” and especially “Conversation 16” pleased the crowd.

Very few words were exchanged between the crowd and the focused band, with Bryce and Matt occasionally thanking the audience for the support before leaping into a new song. After finishing a track someone from the balcony shouted, “Good job, Matt!” The audience chuckled as Berninger replied, “Thanks Dad” before going into a joking rhetorical conversation from the point of view of his dad: “Where are you going, Matt? That’s the wrong goal, Matt.”

The night was not yet over. As the band returned for an encore, a hoard of audience members approached the front of the stage. Berninger grabbed his bottle of wine, approached a fan in the front row and shook his hand, then gave the lucky individual the bottle. During the encore Berninger jumped off the stage and joined the audience, surprising fans in the balcony as he finished singing the last song of the night, “Terrible Love,” beside them. Though more somber songs were played than desired and the ever-fun, high octane “Abel” did not make the cut this evening, The National put on an enthralling live show.

Setlist:

Don’t Swallow the Cap
Bloodbuzz Ohio
Sea of Love
Afraid of Everyone
Conversation 16
Demons
Heavenfaced
This is the Last Time
Mistaken for Strangers
Daughters of the Soho Riots
Apartment Story
Pink Rabbits
Humiliation
I Need My Girl
England
Graceless
About Today
Fake Empire

Encore:
I Should Live In Salt
Mr. November
Terrible Love

Metric in Action!

Touring in support of their fifth release, Synthetica, Metric played the album almost in entirety (only three songs did not appear on their setlist); they added just a few older, fan favorites. The first stop of their fall tour, the Canadian quartet thrilled an enthusiastic audience despite a few technical difficulties.

The band was greeted by delighted cheers and applause when they graced the stage. Emily Haines (vocals, synthesizer), James Shaw (guitar, keyboard), Joshua Winstead (bass, keyboard), and Joules Scott-Key (drums) waved to the Rochester crowd, approached their instruments and played the first track of Synthetica. They played the first 3 tracks from the album in succession and the audience cheered at the start of each song and gleefully sang along with Emily. “Youth Without Youth,” the first single of the album, is a great live track as Emily commands “on the count of three jump with me…” and the excited members of the audience happily obliged.

All was going well for the band as they methodically transitioned to the next song on their list. The upbeat and extremely catchy drum riff of “Lost Kitten” filled the air; the crowd roared and again sang along. About a quarter ways through the song the effects went haywire and decided to keep its own beat, Emily turned to Joules and motioned for him to stop. While the gents attempted to mend the machine, Emily apologized and for the first time had a chat with the audience, “How are you,” she began. In a stream on consciousness Emily blissfully noted that the show was the first of their fall tour, thanked the audience for the warm reception, mentioned how she and the guys just left their studios in Canada and asked if there were any Canadians in the room. A few hands shot in the air as the fans from her native land jumped and shouted in response. “Sprinkles in the mist,” Emily joked. She then turned to James, “ok, we’ll just move on,” she noted. They left the song in the dust and commenced everyone’s favorite track from their third LP, Live It Out, “Empty.”

“Dead Disco” had to make an appearance this night and luckily it did. Upon the first few notes the crowd erupted in cheers as Emily jokingly approached the mic and coifed her hair in preparation. They closed the set with loud number “Stadium Love” but quickly returned for their encore. After two songs, Josh and Joules left the stage as James and Emily remained. James reached for his acoustic and played background as Emily again thanked the
crowd and again went on a stream of consciousness tangent of how-in the moment with James on the acoustic with all becoming calm-felt like Willie Nelson. And confessed her love for Willie. (I mean, who doesn’t!)

Soon enough Emily began a slow, acoustic version of “Gimme Sympathy,” to which the audience sang with her. “Sounds good,” she added as the room almost overtook her on the mic. When the song was almost finished Josh and Joules jumped back on the stage, clapped and sang along as well. They ended the song with a bow, again
waved goodbye to everyone, jumped off the front of the stage and shook the hands of the fans in the front row. One fan was disappointed that she could not share in this moment, dipped below the barrier and bounded over to shake Emily’s hand. The singer obliged and extended her hand before leaving for the night-can’t take mothers anywhere sometimes.

Though disappointed that the band decided to not play more tracks from previous albums, several fans shouted for “Hustle Rose”-a song I desired to hear as well-Metric sounds great live.

Setlist:
Artificial Nocturne
Youth Without Youth
Speed the Collapse
Dreams So Real
Lost Kitten
Empty
Help I’m Alive
Synthetica
Clone
Breathing Underwater
Dead Disco
Stadium Love

Encore:
Monster Hospital
Gold Guns Girls
Gimme Sympathy

Matt & Kim's on FIIRRREE!

Article & Images Published w/ Blurt Magazine

Matt and Kim 8-6-08
Bug Jar • Rochester, NY
By April S. Engram

The patrons of Rochester, NY’s Bug Jar do not often break out into riotous form full of moshing, shoving, hoisting friends on shoulders, jumping on stage and the lead signer leaping into the crowd to dance with fans… but then again it’s not everyday that Matt and Kim takes command of its stage. 

With album number two soon to be released, Matt and Kim still find themselves touring continuously behind their 2006 self titled debut. The duo took a detour from their larger tour with CSS and The Go Team to humble the faithful in Rochester, NY. Opening act Ice Cream Social, a fellow electro-synth based band, filled ears with lyrics such as “We all wear glasses,” and sights such as hot red, tight jeans, a fanny pack and convulsive dancing. Then it was time for Matt and Kim to take control. 
The couple/duo keeps everything simple. The band name, short and sweet – we know who they are. The sounds, alt-punk, dance and rock, are shelled out in short, fast-sometimes lyric-less-tracks. And of course the instruments: just drums and keyboard/synthesizer. The fact that out of such a straightforward equation Matt Johnson (keyboard/vocals) and Kim Schifino (drums) manage to make such a volume of melodious noise is compelling…not to mention the fact that they seem to bear permanent smiles. 

Matt and Kim always makes sure to set up as close as they can to the edge of the stage. And from the audience standpoint, once you are pushed to the brim by ravenous fans, you can easily reach out and give Matt a high five, which one person did. Matt made sure to start the evening off on a dramatic note as he asked for the lights to be turned down, stood atop his stool, asked the crazed crowd to “turn it down a level…just one more” and introduced his band. As if we didn’t know. 
But their humbleness is of course part of the charm. After a quick run through three songs, Matt again chatted us up. After a second request to “turn it down a level… just one more” Matt shared a tale of the band’s trials crossing the border and Kim’s innate uneasiness, and inexplicable nervous laugh when being asked questions (which he of course imitated). 

With everyone in the room already hot and sweaty, Matt decided to slow things down, switch to his keyboard and take a breather. (His keyboard had been malfunctioning.) Yet he did not want to keep the crowd waiting so Matt resorted to using a synth and played the fastest song of the night and that is when the crowd got even nuttier. About six people shoved their way to the front and even I got caught in the riot and found myself collided into and sweated upon mercilessly. By the time that track was over a backup keyboard was making its way to the stage so Kim stood on her stool and took a moment to bid hello to the audience. Her first words: “I don’t really sound like that when I laugh.” 

While she made us laugh with her own tale defending her actions against Matt’s words, the latter set up his keyboard and was raring to go again. The duo plowed through fan favorites, “Yea Yeah,” “5k,” “Silver Tiles,” and “Grand.” About halfway through their set, the sound man requested that Matt open the rear door – and make sure that no one jumped on the stage from outside – since it was so damn hot. Unsuspecting smokers standing just before the door got a nice surprise: a free dance party as they too started dancing. 

However, a Matt and Kim show would not be complete with out audience members leaping on the stage. So when Matt announced that they were going to play the last song of the night, the crowd decided to make it the most memorable song of the evening. Someone from outside jumped on the stage and immediately people inside the club followed suit. As a dozen people shoved and elbowed their way onto the small stage, Matt and Kim ended their last song with a bang and the audience roared. But Matt wasn’t done yet. e immediately asked the DJ to turn up the dance music and jumped beside one delighted fan and began dancing while Kim was chatting away in the back of the room. 
Like a sonic boom, Matt and Kim hit us quickly and fiercely with their tunes. Though the set was short, approximately 35 minutes, it was the “bestest, shortest set” I’ve seen in some time.