Entries tagged with: The National
The promotional side of putting out a record is probably not the most fun part of being in a band (see Radiohead's Meeting People is Easy), but it can look like (kinda) fun if its shot and shown in time-lapse, sped up motion. This is the general premise for EL VY's video for "No Time To Crank The Sun" (from debut album Return to the Moon). You get to see Matt Berninger (The National) and Brent Knopf (Menomena) sit through interviews, photoshoots, live sessions, and the like. Matt's brother Tom directed it and you can watch it below.
photo: Matt Berninger w/ EL VY over the weekend (more by Amanda Hatfield)
We mentioned earlier this year that The National began recording their long awaited Grateful Dead tribute album in Woodstock at Dreamland Recordings. A new Stereogum feature on the band reports that the wait will finally be over in early 2016, and that they'll once again be teaming up with the Red Hot organization to release it (the same organization the Dessners did Dark Was the Night with).
More details since the initial announcement on who's contributing to it keep coming to. The band told Stereogum that the album has "somewhere in the neighborhood of 70 contributions," now including Perfume Genius, Tunde Adebimpe (of TV on the Radio), Marijuana Deathsquads (doing "Truckin'"), Unknown Mortal Orchestra ("Shakedown Street"), Fucked Up, Daniel Rossen (of Grizzly Bear) on two songs including "Terrapin Station," Phosphorescent main man Matthew Houck, Pavement frontman Stephen Malkmus and more. Plus there's all the previously-mentioned names like Bon Iver, Sharon Van Etten, Lee Ranaldo (Sonic Youth), Ira Kaplan (Yo La Tengo), Kurt Vile & J Mascis (doing "Box of Rain" together), The War On Drugs ("Touch of Grey"), and of course The National themselves (including their take on"Peggy-O," a traditional the Dead played a lot). The latter two have been played live before, and you can check out videos of those below.
The wait for this compilation has been long, but it sounds like it'll be worth it. The National's Bryan Devendorf said, "Some of the interpretations of the songs, you hear it, and you go, 'My god, this is fucking killer.'" With a solid group of some of the best indie artists out there covering the Dead, it's hard to go wrong.
In other "indie musicians covering the Grateful Dead" news, Real Estate's Alex Bleeker and his band The Freaks doing another of their Dead tribute shows, and this one's in Brooklyn. It happens at Rough Trade on December 30. Tickets will be on sale on Wednesday (11/18) at noon. Alex Bleeker & The Freaks just played Brooklyn Bowl last week and are currently on tour in support of their new album.
All of The Freaks' upcoming tour dates are listed, with the National and War on Drugs videos, below...
photos by Amanda Hatfield, words by Andrew Sacher
EL VY / Wye Oak / Julien Baker @ Bowery Ballroom - 11/13/15
EL VY released their debut album Return to the Moon at the tail-end of last month via 4AD, and their tour in support of it hit NYC this past weekend for sold-out shows at Bowery Ballroom on Friday (11/13) and Music Hall of Williamsburg on Saturday (11/14). The band is led by Matt Berninger (who fronts The National) and Brent Knopf (who fronts Ramona Falls and used to be in Menomena), and they were joined by drummer Andy Stack (of their tourmates Wye Oak), backup vocalist Moorea Masa (who also sings on their album), and another guitarist/bassist. Brent is the band's multi-instrumentalist and he switched around a lot from keyboards to acoustic guitar to electric. And Matt Berninger was as distinctly Matt Berninger as ever, doing Matt Berninger things like quickly going from standing still and somberly singing to screaming and thrashing around the stage and slamming his mic to the ground. Now that he's a guy who's headlined Barclays Center, it was a treat to see him up close and personal. As for the setlist, they played all of Return to the Moon and also covered Fine Young Cannibals "She Drives Me Crazy" (which they've been doing the whole tour), which got a good portion of the crowd singing.
Wye Oak provided direct support, with a set that leaned pretty equally on their more rocking material and the poppier sounds they explored on last year's Shriek. As they always do, they sounded super full considering they're just a two piece. And speaking of sounding full with a small stage setup, Julien Baker, the young Memphis singer/songwriter who opened both NYC shows, sounded really great with nothing more than her voice and clean electric guitar. Her debut album only just came out (via 6131) but it's clear that she's already a super confident performer. A lot of her stuff is somber and introverted, but she could really belt it when she wanted to. The shows with EL VY were just two of her three NYC shows this weekend. She also played a late show at Mercury Lounge with Eliott Brood on Saturday (Mina Tindle was supposed to open the MHOW show but had to cancel).
If you haven't yet, read our interview with EL VY. More pictures from Bowery below...
"We had a bit of a sense of direction as far as where wanted it to head but no hard and fast rules." - Brent Knopf on EL VY's debut "Return to the Moon"
photo of Brent Knopf & Matt Berninger by Deirdre O'Callaghan
Both well known for their respective other projects, The National and Menomena, Matt Berninger and Brent Knopf seemed to be deliberately reserved about their collaborative project EL VY, and its debut release, Return to the Moon, at the end of last month. Largely absent of the distinctive characteristics that both musicians have established to much critical acclaim and success, Return to the Moon is a sort of happy accident, a collaboration in spite of itself and what would understandably be assumed as the antithetical creative approach of both musicians. Considering that fact, it's not surprising that Return to the Moon still manages to evoke the tendencies of Knopf and Berninger while at the same time embracing a sort of mirrored image of what both might otherwise be given to in their other creative endeavors.
There's still the same baritone croon familiar to those fans of The National, and Knopf's innate sense of atmospheric balance in sound and scope is equally as present. With EL VY, the immediate contrast is that while still familiar in the context of its creators, the storyline is less an aesthetic of melodrama and lush musical arrangements and more an inside joke, albeit one just as seriously constructed, that both musicians allow the listener to be in on. It's a subject I brought up in my recent conversation with both Berninger and Knopf as well as the creative contrasts, if any, they observed in bringing the music together for EL VY.
EL VY are on tour and will be playing two sold-out shows this weekend at the Bowery Ballroom this Friday, November 13, followed by Saturday's performance at the Music Hall of Williamsburg.
BV: This is kind of a departure for both of you, considering what Menomena and The National sound like, but there are those underlying idiosyncrasies where it still functions on a sort of darkly humorous level. Is that something you felt while making the record or something you were aiming for?
Brent Knopf: Berninger is a master at lyrics that are simultaneously hilarious and heartbreaking and just completely dead serious but also nonsensical. [Laughs.] I think that's how life is, so finding a way to blend those things together always feels more real to me.
Matt Berninger: I think that all my writing in terms of lyrics, I kind of do that even with The National. Meaning that, melodrama is something I love. An exaggeration or absurd, fantastical metaphors for real small issues are what I do in The National, too, so I think that's a little bit of my safety armor for me to actually be able to talk about real things. I kind of do an exaggerated melodramatic version of the real situations, so it isn't that different with EL VY. I think even with The National I'm a funny writer. I write about serious stuff, but I try to do it in a funny way, sometimes? I don't know. [Laughs.] People never think of me as being a light person, and I wouldn't describe myself as that, but maybe this record feels lighter or feels funnier because the backdrop of a lot of the writing has a different personality. I was only writing lyrics for this while listening to music, and that's how I always do it. Brent was opening all these windows, and I was just sort of jumping out of them and kind of following him. So yeah, I wasn't trying to make a record that was making some sort of statement about music or anything like that, but I was definitely writing about myself in a kind of absurd way. "I'm the Man to Be" is a self-portrait, but it's turned up to eleven. [Laughs.]
by Andrew Sacher
EL VY, the new collaborative duo of The National singer Matt Berninger and Menomena / Ramona Falls' Brent Knopf, release their debut album Return To The Moon today via 4AD. If you've been following along with the album's rollout, then you've already heard five of the eleven songs and you know this thing is pretty diverse. There are some funky songs, some somber songs, some arty songs; really not one song sounds like any other, but not at the expense of this being a cohesive album. Some of it quite literally sounds like The National meets Menomena, and other parts don't really sound like either of those bands. Whatever the song's vibe is, it's Matt's distinct voice that makes this thing instantly familiar and likable. His lyrics are as personal as ever, and like he's done before he loaded this thing with music references (Husker Du, The Smiths, Minutemen, The Beatles). It's too good of an album to write off as a mere side project, and now you can hear it in full via Spotify below.
Matt Berninger (The National) and Brent Knopf's (Menomena, Ramona Falls) new side project EL VY are just one day from releasing their album Return to the Moon and they've revealed one more song from it, "Silent Ivy Hotel." Watch the Tom Berninger-directed lyric video below. That makes a total of five of the eleven songs available on Spotify, and you can listen to a playlist with all of them below too.
EL VY will be touring soon, including a run with Wye Oak that hits NYC on November 13 at Bowery Ballroom and November 14 at MHOW. The openers were recently revealed and they're both good: it's Memphis singer/songwriter Julien Baker on night 1 and French art pop singer Mina Tindle on night 2.
photo by Kim Metso
The National guitarist Aaron Dessner's house in Ditmas Park (which is right down the street from his brother Bryce's house) is now on the market. It's also the house that the band uses as their recording studio and which frontman Matt Berninger was renting the upstairs of. Brownstoner reports:
The shingle house at 236 Stratford Road in Ditmas Park has a porch swing, two-car garage and recording studio. But perhaps the most remarkable thing about it is the identity of the seller, The National's Aaron Dessner.The asking price is $2,350,000 and the listing is up here. As the Brownstoner article points out, in addition to The National recording High Violet and Trouble Will Find Me in the house, Sharon Van Etten recorded Tramp there too.
Technically in Beverly Square West, though many would call it Ditmas Park, the house cost Dessner $735,000 when it he bought in 11 years ago, in 2004, from sellers who had lived there for decades.
He renovated extensively, and it shows, with a relaxed organic-modern feel. The just-renovated exterior has cedar siding, Ipe on the porch and a porch swing.
Inside, there are original parquet floors, early electric light fixtures, a tiger oak staircase, paneling and stained glass windows. The fireplace in the living room works.
The kitchen has wood countertops and the bathrooms have classic white subway tile.
Two million might seem like a lot, but this is a big house with history in a popular neighborhood, the Brooklyn real estate market is hot, and really two million starts to look like nothing when you realize how much the NYC ex-home of Billie Holiday costs.
Earlier today, Matt Berninger's other band EL VY released a new song.
The National's Matt Berninger and ex-Menomena / Ramona Falls' Brent Knopf's new side project EL VY have already released three songs from their upcoming album Return to the Moon (due this Friday via 4AD) and now they released a fourth. It's called "Need A Friend" and you can watch the lyric video (directed by Matt's brother Tom) below.
The band's upcoming tour includes two sold-out NYC shows with Wye Oak.
photo: The National at Barclays Center in 2013 (more by Dana (distortion) Yavin)
Although The National haven't released an album since 2013's Trouble Will Find Me, they've had a very busy two years. They premiered their documentary, Mistaken for Strangers, last year at the Tribeca Film Festival and toured the US and Europe. Frontman Matt Berninger also recently formed a band with ex-Menomena member / Ramona Falls frontman Brent Knopf called EL VY and they're releasing their debut LP, Return to the Moon, on October 30 via 4AD. Berninger spoke to Rolling Stone yesterday about EL VY and also mentioned that The National's seventh album is being worked on:
We're working on a record. We're collecting all the ideas. Those guys are coming out to California for a week. We're in the anything-goes, fun phase of that. That's happening, but no idea when.The National recently debuted a new song called "Roman Candle" during their set at a Los Angeles benefit show for non-profit Cooperative Education, which was co-founded by Berninger's cousins, Joe and Jeff Berninger. A few days later, they performed the song at Treasure Island Music Festival under the title "Checking Out." Before playing it, Berninger said, "It was called something else yesterday. Today it's called 'Checking Out.' Tomorrow, nobody knows." We'll have to wait until their pre-NYE shows in Aspen to see if it changes once again. For now, a video of the band performing it is below.
The National's only date besides those Aspen shows is an Australian festival in 2016, and they probably aren't adding much more for a while considering EL VY begin their tour in November. Since we last spoke, Wye Oak (whose drummer Andy Stack is in EL VY's live lineup) were added as support to select dates on that tour, including the NYC shows on 11/13 at Bowery Ballroom and 11/14 at MHOW. Both of those are sold out.
In other National-related news, guitarist Bryce Dessner joined German musician Alva Noto and Japanese composer Ryuichi Sakamoto in creating the score for Academy Award-winning director Alejandro Gonzalez Iñárritu's upcoming film, The Revenant. The film will be released on January 8. You can watch the trailer below.
In even more related news, the other Dessner (Aaron) and Justin Vernon announced their second annual Eaux Claires Music & Arts Festival today.
Watch the video of The National's performance of "Roman Candle" aka "Checking Out" and check out the EL VY/Wye Oak tour dates below...
by Andrew Sacher
EL VY, the new band of The National frontman Matt Berninger and former Menomena / current Ramona Falls frontman Brent Knopf, have released a third song from their debut record. Following the art rocker "I'm The Man To Be" and the new wavey "Return to the Moon," "Paul Is Alive" has them coming a little closer to psych pop, with Matt's vocals as unmistakable as ever. Watch the lyric video, by Matt's brother Tom (who directed The National documentary Mistaken for Strangers), below.
by Andrew Sacher
We already heard one song from EL VY, the new project of The National frontman Matt Berninger and former Menomena / current Ramona Falls frontman Brent Knopf, and today we get a second. That first one was kinda new wavey, but "I'm The Man To Be" is artier and wackier. Here's what Matt says about it:
There's this great Schoolboy Q song 'There He Go' which samples Menomena's "Wet and Rusting." I thought it would be funny to re-sample the same sample and do it from the perspective of a pathetic self-aggrandizing rocker alone in a hotel room. Something I know a lot about. That's how it started but then Brent took the sample out and we wrote an entirely new song.Watch the lyric video below.
The album, Return to the Moon, comes out October 30 via 4AD. The band will also be touring this fall. Both NYC shows are sold out.
by Andrew Sacher
Hoferlanz is the project of multi-instrumentalist Ben Lanz, who's played in The National, Beirut, Sufjan Stevens' band, Gabriel & the Hounds and more. He's releasing an album this week and celebrating with a release show on Wednesday (9/2) at Union Pool in Brooklyn. The National's Scott Devendorf and Helado Negro will be DJing. Tickets are on sale now.
So far two singles are out from the album. "Karla's Retreat" the kind of orchestral indie rock you might expect from someone with a resume like Ben, but "Visitaa" brings a harder, distorted edge to that sound. Check both out below.
the in-process exterior of National Sawdust
Back in May, we posted details on the new non-profit Williamsburg venue National Sawdust, that's set to open on the corner of Wythe Ave and North 6th Street on October 1. Now the venue's initial schedule has been announced.
Three of the venue's curators, The National's Bryce Dessner, composer Nico Muhly and vocalist Theo Bleckmann, will team up for a concert on opening night. They'll be joined by the ACME ensemble and violist Nadia Sirota. Chris Thile (Punch Brothers, Nickel Creek) will open with a solo set. Tickets are on sale now. That's a 7:30 PM show, and there's also a late show that will have curator Jeffrey Zeigler teaming up with Cibo Matto and more (tickets).
Other upcoming shows include throat singer Tanya Tagaq on 10/2 (tickets), a multi-day Terry Riley festival (tickets), Chris Thile's band Punch Brothers on 10/8 (tickets), a John Zorn festival (tickets), Majical Cloudz on 10/21 (tickets), and much more. The venue currently has shows booked through December. Check out the full schedule.
That 10/21 show is currently the only upcoming tour date for Majical Cloudz, who have a new album on the way.
by Andrew Sacher
The National frontman Matt Berninger and former Menomena / current Ramona Falls frontman Brent Knopf have teamed up as EL VY ("pronounced like a plural of Elvis; rhymes with 'hell pie'"). Their debut album, Return to the Moon, will be out October 30 via 4AD, and the lyric video for its title track is out now. Matt's singing is pretty much the way it is in The National (so, really good) but musically this song is closer to bouncy '80s new wave. Watch/listen, and check out the album artwork and tracklist, below. Here's what the press release has to say about it:
Return to the Moon sounds exactly like you'd hope a collaboration between these artists would: Berninger's darkly funny, lyrical storytelling and his immediately identifiable sense of melody, offset by Knopf's playful, architectural arrangements and inventive production. Knopf explains, "I never worried about sending Matt something unfinished. He's able to imagine where it can go. He can grab the four bars that will become theThe duo is also going on tour with a backing band, including two NYC shows. Those happen on November 13 at Bowery Ballroom and November 14 at Music Hall of Williamsburg. Tickets go on sale Friday (8/7) at noon.
core of the track and develop them into something amazing."
The National and Ramona Falls are both currently preparing upcoming releases, so EL VY is not a replacement or a side project, but a glimpse into an alternate musical universe: a universe in which Berninger never left Cincinnati, and Midwestern punk Mecca the Jockey Club never closed. A universe in which Mike Watt and the late D. Boon of the punk band Minutemen are every bit as iconic as Mick and Keith, and a teenager's sense of rebellion is fed by the dark social politics of middle America.
"This record is more autobiographical than anything else I've written," says Berninger, "but the details aren't true. It's written in the voices of a few invented characters, composites of different people - myself, my wife, and other people I was thinking about."
All dates are listed below...
San Francisco's Treasure Island Music Festival returns in 2015 from October 17-18, and this year's lineup includes The National, The War on Drugs, Robyn & La Bagatelle Magique, Azealia Banks, Run the Jewels, Father John Misty, Panda Bear, Deerhunter, Drive Like Jehu, Ex Hex, Deadmau5, STS9, Hudson Mohawke, Shamir, Viet Cong and more. Tickets go on sale Thursday (6/11) at 10 AM PT.
Speaking of Hudson Mohawke, his new album is streaming on iTunes. and he's got a new video for the song "Warriors." Watch that, with the full Treasure Island lineup, below...
Remember when The National played "Sorrow" for six hours straight at MoMA PS1? If you've been thinking ever since, "I wish this was available to buy as a really expensive box set" well your dreams have come true. The nine-vinyl-LP set A Lot of Sorrow will be released by 4AD on June 22. It comes in a translucent box (on clear vinyl), they're only making 1,500 of them and they sell for $150.
Before your eyes roll completely out of their sockets, all proceeds from the box set will be donated to Partners in Health, "an organization dedicated to improve the health of impoverished people worldwide." Preorder yours.
photo: The National at Flow Festival 2014 (more by Dominick Mastrangelo)
The National just revealed a previously-unreleased song from the Trouble Will Find Me sessions called "Sunshine On My Back" which features Sharon Van Etten on background vocals. It's currently available on iTunes, Spotify, and as a bonus if you purchase or rent their Mistaken for Strangers documentary via VHX.tv. Listen below.
Their only date at the moment is the Eaux Claires Music Festival, which National guitarist Aaron Dessner curated with Bon Iver's Justin Vernon.
the whole crew (via)
The National have been talking about an all-star indie rock tribute to The Grateful Dead for long time now, and 2015 would be a good year to finally release it given all the excitment surrounding The Dead's 50th anniversary. It's seeming like a possibility that that will in fact be the case, as the band are/were up in Woodstock at Dreamland Recordings working on it.
We already knew they were planning to include members of Vampire Weekend, Bon Iver, Kurt Vile, The Walkmen and Megafaun, and from the pictures they've been posting on Instagram, it's looking like way more really exciting people are involved too. It had already been talked about to maybe include Sonic Youth guitarist and major Dead fan Lee Ranaldo, but it's now confirmed that he recorded at Dreamland with them too. Will Oldham (aka Bonnie 'Prince' Billy) is there (!). Kristian Matsson (aka The Tallest Man on Earth) is there. Walter Martin from the Walkmen is pictured. Cass McCombs and Phil Lesh collaborator Joe Russo, who both just played a Dead tribute in Brooklyn were there, and Sam Amidon too. Josh Ritter's band, etc member Josh Kaufman is there along with his former Yellowbirds bandmate Sam Cohen, and Takka Takka/Gabriel and the Hounds/sometimes National, etc member Conrad Doucette is in the pictures too.
Looks like this is turning out even more exciting than it first seemed. Check out more pictures from the recording sessions below...
photo: Sufjan at Big Ears Fest 2010 (more by Andrew Frisicano)
Part of the lineup already leaked for Justin Vernon and Aaron Dessner's Eaux Claires Music and Arts Festival, and now the whole thing has been announced. It includes their bands Bon Iver and The National, as well as Sufjan Stevens, Spoon, Sturgill Simpson, Sylvan Esso, Polica, The Tallest Man on Earth, Low, Liturgy, Hiss Golden Messenger, S. Carey, Phil Cook, Doomtree, Marijuana Deathsquads, Charles Bradley, Boys Noize, Blind Boys of Alabama, Sam Amidon, Field Report, Indigo Girls (performing 1994's Swamp Ophelia) and more.
The fest takes place July 17 & 18 at the Foster Farm in Eau Claire, WI. The pre-sale sold out, but tickets go on sale to the general public Thursday (2/12) at noon CST.
Full lineup, announcement video, and flyer, below...
if you've ever wondered what The National would look like as ornaments...
For the past two years, The National have teamed up with Bob's Burgers for a Thanksgiving song, and this year the two have met again, this time to get in Christmas spirit. The band, starring as animated Christmas tree ornaments, perform the song "Christmas Magic." Check it out, via Vulture, below...
Grimes @ Pitchfork Fest 7/20/14
Photographer Dominick Mastrangelo has been contributing to BrooklynVegan for years, and this year he did most of his shooting in Chicago (as well as other places, like Finland's Flow Festival). Now that the year is coming to a close, Dominick has put together his favorite 14 photos that he took this year, as well as a list of ten records he's kept on heavy rotation throughout 2014. Check out more of his shots, and browse his album list, below...
Photo: Justin Vernon @ Osheaga 2014 (more by Ellie Pritts)
As discussed, Bon Iver's Justin Vernon is curating a music festival in his hometown of Eau Claire, WI called The Eaux Claires Music and Arts Festival, which takes place on July 17 & 18, 2015 at the Foster Farm. Since we last spoke, it was revealed that The National's Aaron Dessner is helping him curate it too, and that tickets go on sale at 1 PM EST today (12/18). Justin and Aaron spoke about the fest, via press release:
Justin Vernon says, "After several years of touring and playing music festivals of all different types around the world, I wanted to put together an event that would honor what we love about this place -- including an independent attitude and blaze orange caps -- but also shine a light on less familiar and surprising elements that are already weaving themselves into our future. Having this festival right in my backyard gives me and the guest artists a chance to share familiar work and new creations in a setting close to my heart and different than any other stage in the world. To create this event within view of the Chippewa River -- the very river that defines this place -- makes it all the more meaningful. We're fortunate because the Chippewa Valley already has a history of great music festivals. Everyone -- the city, the county, and the Country Jam folks -- has been very supportive. They're helping us take it beyond music and into a celebration of film, art, and things still in the works... just walking around the place is going to be an experience."--
Aaron Dessner adds, "Justin and I have been friends and collaborators for years. Working together to create and curate Eaux Claires is something we've been talking about for a long time. To finally see it come together, and to imagine the music, art and community the festival will bring together, is very exciting."
It's Halloween and the horror short films keep coming. First Avey Tare, and now Arcade Fire have put one out called Festi. The band gives the following description:
Festi, an Arcade Fire production.It was directed by "Noreen Bauble" and stars the members of Arcade Fire, James Murphy, Fleet Foxes, The National, ZZ Top, Slash, Peter Gabriel and more. Watch the full spooky thing below...
In association with people in Austin.
A look back at the Arcade Fire summer festival tour, 2011.
photos by James Richards IV, words by Zach Pollack & Milos Markicevic
The Flaming Lips / Afghan Whigs / mohawks
Riot Fest Chicago kicked off this past Friday (9/12) in Humboldt Park and continued the following day with Samhain (playing Initium) (video below), The National, The Flaming Lips, Descendents (playing Milo Goes to College), The Get Up Kids (playing Something to Write Home About), The Afghan Whigs, Television, Buzzcocks, Samiam, Wavves and many more. Pictures of the second day, and Milos and Zach's reviews, are in this post.
I skipped the rainy first day of Riot Fest and waded through the muddy aftermath to The Dandy Warhols perform at the Riot Stage. Getting there early I used the extra time attempting (and failing) to clean my sneakers, which had accumulated enough mud under the soles to make them look like brown platform shoes. The Dandys hit the stage on time and managed to squeeze in a good variety of their hits in the short 45 minute set time, including "I Love You," "We Used To Be Friends," "Bohemian Like You," and "Boys Better." The sound was a bit off the first couple of songs, possibly having something to do with Courtney Taylor's dual mic setup. But overall the set was excellent and managed to distract me from the sinking feeling under my shoes. The band seemed to enjoy themselves, especially keyboardist Zia McCabe who danced like a hippy while playing her Korg synth and tambourine. I spotted her again later in the day rocking out among the audience during the Die Antwoord set. Overall my only complaint was that Dandy's set felt criminally short and left me craving more. --MM
I started off day 2 of the festival by catching NYC punk legends Television's late afternoon set on the Rise Stage. They delivered almost all of their classic Marquee Moon (3/4 of their current lineup recorded the LP), complete with its signature paranoid feel and fantastic interlocking guitar work. Though they don't play all that many shows these days, the band were way on at the fest and came off sounding just as powerful as their recordings. After watching a large part of their set, I headed over to the Riot Stage for something very different: Die Antwoord.
The South African rave rappers began their performance by piping a highly-effected "DJ Hi-Tek Rulez" over the sound system, which includes the hook "DJ Hi-Tek will fuck you in the ass." Their subsequent set followed suit, with more ridiculous and highly danceable songs. During what I stuck around for, rapper Ninja mooned the crowd multiple times and did some serious stage hopping with Yo-Landi Vi$$er. We then broke for food prior to The Afghan Whigs' set on the nearby Roots Stage. --ZP
The crowd waiting for the Whigs couldn't have been more different than the one we had left. Older and somber, they occasionally took furrowed glances at Die Antwoord's stage in manner similar to a disgruntled parent. The Afghan Whigs finally hit the stage at 4:15 sharp and the crowd erupted with a mix of excitement and relief. Greg Dulli and the band were dressed in the debonair style that they're known for and reached deep into their back log, pulling out favorites like "Debonair" from their classic Gentleman album (which they're reissuing this year). The band flat out rocked and Duli even slammed his own drum near the end of the set. It was a real pleasure seeing these guys fully back in action. --MM
After Afghan Whigs, we headed to the smaller Revolt Stage to catch Buffalo, NY punk pop trio Lemuria. The three-piece delivered a mix of tunes from last year's The Distance Is So Big and its predecessors with a ton of energy. The humble crowd they gathered seemed to eat it up too. Highlights included the driving "Clay Baby" and grungy "Brilliant Dancer." After a handful of songs from Lemuria, we headed over to the already-packed Roots Stage where Wu-Tang Clan would soon be playing.
The Wu entered with their classic party-starter "Bring Da Ruckus," followed by the majority of 36 Chambers. Standout moments from their overall fun set included the RZA-led "The Mystery Of Chessboxin'," "Protect Ya Neck," and the classic "C.R.E.A.M." RZA also gave Syl Johnson a big shout out while talking about influential Chicago artists. --ZP
The Flaming Lips were our next mark, who were to take the Roots Stage after Wu-Tang. Wayne Coyne and co. began their sprawling trip-out with "The Abandoned Hospital Ship" followed by "Yoshimi Battles the Pink Robots, Pt. 1." The band had an elaborate, hanging fiber-optic setup and a stage-spanning screen with visuals behind them. When combined (most often with a tunnel-looking rainbow video), the backgrounds and fiber-optics worked extremely well together. There were also various blowup mascots on stage throughout their set, like a sun, mushrooms, a creepy butterfly, etc. with people inside animating them. While attempting a confetti cannon shot during "The Abandoned Hospital Ship," The Flaming Lips blew the power on the Roots Stage. The confetti still shot off, and it was a bit sad for a few minutes while they assessed the situation. They did manage to come back strong, yet Coyne still seemed understandably deflated. This didn't stop him from putting on a great show though, and he channeled some of that weirdness into an excellent performance of The Terror standout "Look...The Sun Is Rising." The uplifting "Do You Realize??" came next, followed by their incredibly warped cover of The Beatles classic "Lucy in the Sky With Diamonds." The verses remain fairly intact, but the chorus is shopped with doom-ridden explosions throughout. It's a really interesting take on the song, and I'm curious to see what the recording will be like. --ZP
The National were a bit delayed due to a border crossing mishap in Ottawa, so The Flaming Lips were given a bit more time. When they did arrive, Matt Berninger first joked that he was busy checking his email before actually explaining what happened. The National proceeded to give us a mostly late-period headlining set that featured songs from Trouble Will Find Me and High Violet. That's not to say their older material was completely ignored. " They capped off their characteristically great show with "Fake Empire" into "Mr. November," and finished with "Terrible Love." --ZP
photos by Dominick Mastrangelo
The National / How to Dress Well / the scene
Earlier this month, we sent longtime BrooklynVegan contributor Dominick Mastrangelo to the 2014 Flow Festival in Helsinki, Finland. Here's his report and photos from Day 2...
Flow Festival Day 2 ended up leaning heavily toward American bands. It wasn't planned, but with The Horrors canceling a couple days earlier and some scheduling conflicts, it's just how it played out. And not that it was necessarily a bad thing. There's definitely something cool and pleasantly disjointing about seeing bands you've seen stateside in a time zone seven hours away.
But the day did start out with two really solid Finnish bands back to back: The electro-pop of Shivan Dragn and prog-rock instrumentalists - and Spencer Krug collaborators - Siinai.
With a bit of time to kill I venture to the Main Stage to see Les Ambassadeurs led by Salif Keita. The catchy Afro-pop of the ensemble provided an enjoyable, uplifting respite before a run of bands in quick succession.
I caught a brief bit of How To Dress Well. My first time seeing Tom Krell since Pitchfork in 2011 and I was struck by how intense his live set had become. A much more assured and visceral performance than before -- eschewing the string quartet he had with him at Pitchfork in favor of a more straightforward live performance.
From there it was over to the Blue Tent for Bill Callahan, one of the artists I was truly jazzed about seeing in Helsinki. Callahan always seems to come across as the coolest guy in the room and as great as his set was, I was disappointed that much of the crowd chose to talk during his set. (Apparently, this is not a problem exclusive to concerts and festivals in the States.) But I maneuvered to a spot close up where the attention was more rapt and mesmerized by Callahan's smooth bass-baritone and stayed for the entire set; the first band whose set I stayed from start to finish.
I managed to catch a few songs of Danish pop-songstress, MØ at the Black Tent. It was a high-energy set and Karen Ørsted was dressed appropriately in boxing trunks and black tank top, bouncing from stage to speakers and whipping the crowd into a frenzy as us photographers in the pit worked hard to keep up with her.
After a bit of a break, I ventured over to the Balloon 360 stage to see Marissa Nadler. The stage-in-the-round setup, where the sound seemingly comes from everywhere, was perfect for Nadler's haunting, airy songs. It was simply beautiful.
The Main Stage was the next stop for The National. I'd mentioned earlier how wonderfully disjointing it was to see bands across the pond and maybe the The National were more so than any of the American-based bands I saw on the weekend. My first National show was seeing them open for John Vanderslice at a tiny rock club in Denton, TX nearly ten years ago. I've seen them at various points since on their upward trajectory so it was only fitting that I see them headline a festival in Europe. From Denton to Helsinki in a decade.
I finished off my night back at the Balloon Stage for Poliça. Drummers Drew Christopherson and Ben Ivascu faced each other and singer Channy Leaneagh and bassist Chris Bierden took up opposing spots with producer Ryan Olson on the edge of the stage running production. It was hypnotic as the glow of the balloon and hazy LED lights provided dreamy ambiance for rhythmic drum beats and the effects-laden voice of Leaneagh. With Jamie xx performing in the Black Tent and French electronic mastermind Kavinsky in the Blue Tent at the same time as Poliça it was impossible to be everywhere, so I opted to stay outside under the cozy environs of the balloon.
The evening continued at a techno club where we drank cider and beer and danced to generally undanceable songs before spilling out into the brisk Helsinki night and heading to another summer-specific after party out at the water. There young locals were hanging out drinking and chatting in a mashup of languages: Finnish, German, French, English... Some opted for an early morning swim, stripping down and flinging themselves off the dock into the chill. Some drifting way, way out into the dark.
As I rolled up to my hotel in the early morning hours of Sunday, with the sky brightening in the east, I got that feeling you get when you're having an absolute blast somewhere that you don't call home.
I didn't want to leave.