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recommended boston area events

tuesday, december 4th

kelly hogan

@ johnny d's

thursday, december 6th

conor oberst

@ converse hall, tremont st.

thursday, december 6th

jason isbell &

the 400 unit

@ the sinclair

friday, december 7th

the weisstronauts 14th

annual holiday jubilee

with guests tsunami of sound

preacher jack, & the derangers

@ the midway cafe, jp

friday, december 7th


moving mountains


@ the sinclair

saturday, december 8th

patrick watson

@ the sinclair

saturday, december 8th

the faint perform

"danse macabre"


icky blossoms

@ the paradise

sunday, december 9th

band of horses

@ house of blues

sunday, december 9th



@ the paradise

wednesday, december 12th

concrete blonde

jim bianco

@ the sinclair

thursday, december 13th

annual boston christmas cavalcade

benefit for the homeless

featuring tons of artists

(see fb event for details)

@ johnny d's

thursday, december 13th

nada surf

eternal summers

@ the paradise

thursday, december 13th

mates of state

in the valley below

@ brighton music hall

friday, december 14th

forgetters (blake from

jawbreaker's band)

& more tba

@ democracy center, harvard square

sunday, december 30th

sufjan stevens

sheila saputo

@ the royale

monday, december 31st

my morning jacket

@ agganis arena

monday, december 31st

deer tick

two gallants

@ the sinclair

monday, january 7th


@ the paradise

tuesday, january 8th


@ great scott

saturday, january 19th

mission of burma

@ the sinclair

sunday, january 20th

camper van beethoven


@ the middle east down

sunday, january 20th


@ the orpheum

sunday, january 20th

ra ra riot

@ the paradise

sunday, january 27th


@ great scott

tuesday, january 29th

kathleen edwards

sera cahoone

@ brighton music hall

wednesday, february 13th

yo la tengo

@ the paradise

saturday, march 2nd

unknown mortal orchestra

@ brighton music hall

tuesday, march 12th

tame impala

@ house of blues

thursday, march 14th

jukebox the ghost

matt pond pa

lighthouse and the whaler

@ brighton music hall

tuesday, march 26th

yo la tengo

@ the paradise

wednesday & thursday

april 3rd & 4th

they might be giants

@ the paradise

visit tourfilter for more shows

Monday, November 12, 2007

Mp3s: The National played a Boston bar

When I read that the National would be playing at a downtown Boston bar called Paddy O's (legal capacity: about 230), my first thought was that someone had either A) gotten their info way wrong, or B) thought it was the first of April. After all, the band had just sold out the 1400-capacity Roxy a few weeks earlier, as well as two nights at the 575-capacity Middle East downstairs back in June. But when I realized the news was shared by Sean, who books Paddy O's sister bar, Hennessy's (a place that has started hosting some pretty great shows this year), I quickly realized it was no joke.

I'm one of those who only really "got" the National after seeing them live back in June 2005. "Alligator" didn't grab me immediately, but after watching the band rip through 15 songs at a half-full TT the Bears, I was all in. And unlike its predecessor, this year's "Boxer" hit me instantly, securing itself a seat high in my '07 top ten list. But when I learned the band would play two likely-jam-packed shows at the MidEast Down, I balked at seeing the new stuff in that venue... "Boxer" is a more intimate record, and I felt better leaving its songs in my headphones rather than braving the potentially poor sight-lines and sardined conditions of the MED. When the band returned to play the Roxy in early October, better plans, a general distaste for the venue, and another sell-out kept me away from that one, too. Call me crazy, but in my dreams the band would've played the Somerville Theatre or the MFA... that's how I saw the "Boxer" songs brought to life, at someplace involving seats. But I'd completely forgotten how much rock the National brings to even their slower songs, and it wasn't long into their Paddy O's set that I was reminded of that. Powerfully.

So, about this Paddy O's gig: Ostensibly, it was to mark the 100th installment of WFNX's morning show, "The Sandbox", but in reality, it was to try and sell a whole lot of Miller beer products. As soon as I walked in, I was surrounded by Miller banners, Miller hawkers, people drinkin' Miller, and embarrassingly, a botched sign promoting the evening's appearance by "The Nationals". Yes, it crossed my mind then that maybe this was all a ruse, and that Cristian Guzman or Nook Logan would be there to tell everyone what time it was (answer: Miller Time!). When I went up to the bar and asked what they had on tap, the bartender semi-laughed at me before responding: "Miller". And that was it. Fortunately, the "Champagne of Beers" is one of my low-budget drinks of choice, so with High Life in hand I eased up near the front to make sure there were instruments up there. Whew, there were, and the drum kit definitely belonged to Bryan Devendorf. Then it hit me: I'm actually going to get to see the f'in National in this place.

After a too-long delay during which 'FNX personalities reminded us a few times to drink up the Miller, we were treated to an on-stage appearance by four, and I kid you not, "Miller Girls". Shirts tied in belly-exposing knots, smiles firmly in place, and not a word spoken by them (just the DJs leading them), it had to have been one of the most surreal introductions the National had ever received. Off to the side of the slightly raised performance area, the guys grinned sheepishly, probably not believing what they were seeing, same as many of us. So, so odd.

And then, finally, the six guys hit the stage: Singer Matt Berninger, Scott & Bryan Devendorf (bass & drums, respectively), Aaron & Bryce Dessner (guitars), and thankfully this time, Padma Newsome on keys and violin...

The band was on fire, the songs intense, the crowd noisily appreciative. Normally I'd be annoyed by such an overly raucous audience (that's the taper in me typing), but it fit just right at this small rock show, and swept me up. I walked outta there thinking it could have been the show of the year, and with distance, a few weeks later it's easily in my top five.

Some National links...
  • Their official site, MySpace page, Wikipedia entry, and their Beggars label page.

  • Additional Audio: Four songs to stream on MySpace, as usual, and three older songs shared as Mp3s on their own site: "Slipping Husband" and "Murder Me Rachael" from "Sad Songs for Dirty Lovers", and "Cold Girl Fever" off their self-titled debut. NPR also transmitted a live National performance from DC's 9:30 club in June, which you can listen to via the All Songs Considered podcast. I've excerpted two songs here for your listening pleasure...

    Also, the Boston Phoenix's On The Download music blog puts my recording to shame by sharing soundboard audio from the Paddy O's show, along with some sweet two-camera video action.

  • Video: The aforementioned OTD live videos for "Brainy", "Secret Meeting", and "Mistaken For Strangers". A whole bunch of preview clips for the upcoming National film, "A Skin, A Night" by Vincent Moon. A new Black Cab Session for "You've Done It Again, Virginia" that Berninger & a Dessner performed acoustically in the back of a London taxi just yesterday. The band also did one of the Blogoteque Take Away Shows, performing both "Start A War" and "Ada". And, of course, there's the handy National YouTube search.

  • Photos: My point-and-shoot shots of the National at Paddy O's are here. The Line of Best Fit has some excellent pics of the band's performance last night in London. For many more photos, here's a National Flickr tag search. Good thing Flickr doesn't ignore the "the" in their searches, or you'd be looking at lots of pictures of parks.

  • Tourdates: The National continues their worldwide trek in support of "Boxer" through the end of the year and beyond. Tonight they're in Belgium, then they hit up most of Europe before closing out their 2007 road trip in Russia. January brings them south of the equator, with a stop in New Zealand and many more in Australia.

  • Listen to any and all 'Nac-hosted Mp3s at le Hype Machine.

  • the fine print... If anyone has an issue with these Mp3s being made available, just let me know (my contact info in the 'nac faq). Live sets recorded with a Sony ECM-719 mic and a Sony MZ-RH10 minidisc, converted to .wav and then edited to 192kbps Mp3s. Files are made available for a limited time, and are not reposted once removed.


    featured mp3 download
    neil halstead
    live in cambridge, ma
    on november 14th, 2008
    previously: joy formidable - boston 2011

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