Carried in the arms of cheerleaders

The National / The Rosebuds / Doveman
Orlando Social
September 10th, 2007

The first thing that Matt Barringer says is “This is cosy”, before America’s The National kick off with ‘Start A War’, a relatively gentle song from their wonderful and relatively gentle latest record ‘Boxer’. He’s right, it is cosy. The Social is an unfeasibly small place to be catching this band – it’s a sell-out but there’s only about 400 people here. Compare to the far bigger places that they’re playing in other parts of the world, including two nights at Shepherd’s Bush in London, and you can see how special this setting was.

In the live setting, the band really beefs up the ‘Boxer’ tracks – ‘Start a War’ rolls from its gentle beginning to a huge noisy climax, making it a great opener. ‘Squalor Victoria’, ‘Fake Empire’, and an accordion-assisted ‘Slow Show’ are all immense. Some of the album’s subtleties are lost to this heavier sound, which is a shame, but it’s very enjoyable all the same. In a place this small, the sound of the violin carries really well, so that nuance comes across nicely, especially on ‘Baby, We’ll Be Fine’, one of a handful of ‘Alligator’ songs. Matt’s deep, deep voice carries the slower songs, like ‘Daughters of the Soho Riots’ and ‘Racing Like A Pro’ and, to make the point yet again, the small venue suits those songs really well.

He has a really nervous, self-conscious stage presence, clinging to his all-white mic stand for most of the evening. He doesn’t seem too at ease talking to the audience, so chat is limited. Before ‘Mr. November’, we get “This song is about baseball… It isn’t really”. That song, with its sprawling lyrics about the English and cheerleaders and the great white hope, gets the most energy from both crowd and band, with Matt keeled over screaming the chorus. They don’t have any songs like that on ‘Boxer’, so it’s nice to hear how far they’ve come.

start a war / mistaken for strangers / secret meeting / slow show / brainy / baby, we'll be fine / all the wine / squalor victoria / racing like a pro / apartment story / daughters of the soho riots / abel / fake empire / about today... green gloves / mr. november.

Earlier in the evening, North Carolina’s The Rosebuds proved to be more than just an allegory to lost youth, by turning in an energetic set which had the crowd clapping and nodding. Nothing remarkable, but they did the job as far as support bands go. Unlike Doveman, who looked very sad while playing. His songs are better suited to smoky late night establishments, and this setting didn’t fit him too well. Most of them sounded pretty alike, with only the last song picking things up a bit. I’d be interested to hear his upcoming second record, but this wasn’t too hot of a set.

[download The National - Apartment Story (live)] [buy 'Boxer']
[download The Rosebuds - Get Up, Get Out] [buy 'Night of the Furies']
[download Doveman - Sunrise Medley] [pre-order 'With My Left Hand I Raise the Dead']


Lauren said...

Was it just me, or was the show exceptionally emotional? First there was Doveman who was practically crying into his sleeves and then the lead singer of The National seemed to be crouched often, wiping his eyes. I think that's why I liked the Rosebuds. Don't get me wrong, I enjoyed the show very much and The National were terrific--esp the violin (and spastic violinist). And I understand being passionate about your songs...but it was almost too much so.

Loren said...

I was expecting this show to be a bit emotional, given what the bands sing about. I thought the feeling of the show stayed true to the music. I do think that the Rosebuds did provide a good contrast to the new night.

Loren said...

typo: new night = evening :]

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