Entries tagged with: The National
The National @ The High Violet Annex (more by David Andrako)
Combine the downward trend of album sales with a week of no major releases and what do you get? The fewest number of total album sales, 5.3 million, in a single week since Nielsen SoundScan started its tracking in 1991. Topping this week's Billboard chart is Justin Bieber's "My World 2.0" (Island), its fourth time in the spot, with sales of just over 60,000, barely escaping the specter of being the lowest selling No. 1 album in SoundScan's history. (The "Dreamgirls" soundtrack sold about 300 fewer copies in January 2007.) Lady Antebellum's "Need You Now" (Capitol Nashville), the year's most consistent seller, stayed at No. 2 for the fourth straight week, moving 54,000 copies.PREVIOUSLY: The National & guests played BAM & YouTube (pics & video)
The top new album was "High Violet" (4AD) from the National, selling 51,000 copies, good enough for No. 3. [NY Times]
ACL 2008 (more by Kyle Dean Reinford)
October 8-10, 2010 | Zilker Park, Austin, TXTickets go on sale today. The 2010 ACL lineup is below...
"The Austin City Limits Music Festival began as a modest, two-day event and now, as it enters it's 9th year, has become a perennial American music experience. Taking place at the heart of Austin, Texas in the legendary Zilker Park, ACL Festival has grown to 3 days, 8 stages and over 130 bands."
words by Rachel Kowal, photos by Getty Images for American Express
All week, The National has sponsored nightly events at their "High Violet Annex" to celebrate the release of their highly anticipated fifth album, High Violet. On Friday they even performed a set of National songs at the space. Saturday night's sold-out "ZYNC from American Express Presents The National to Benefit Red Hot" show at BAM capped off the week's festivities which started earlier the same evening at the Annex where 70-or-so lucky attendees were, unexpectedly, given tickets to the BAM show and then bussed to the Brooklyn venue to see the show...
the bus @ BAM
The BAM show began with a brief behind-the-scenes video about their recording process, and then the band launched into "Mistaken for Strangers" and then played a string of new songs. Though the National is technically a quintet, as many as nine additional people joined them on stage to play a variety of string and brass instruments. Sufjan Stevens joined the band to sing backing vocals (like he did on Letterman) on a handful of songs. Sometimes National-members Padma Newsome and Thomas Bartlett (Doveman) made a rare appearance together on stage (usually its one or the other as a member of the band). The biggest surprise band member of the night was the Arcade Fire's Richard Reed Parry who sang backup and played a variety of instruments throughout the set. Richard, Sufjan and Thomas all also contributed to High Violet which is out now.
With its ornate molding, dramatic curtains, and theater-like seating, BAM may be a bit of an odd choice to host what is essentially a rock show, but the beautiful space complimented the dapperly dressed band and gave them enough room to spread out on stage. Possibly sensing that something was not quite right, lead singer Matt Berninger hopped off the stage and began pulling people up into a standing position early into the show.
Throughout the show, Berninger was a sight to behold. One moment, he'd take a sip of white wine and sing softly into the mic stand and the next, he's wildly pacing back and forth on stage with his head down, pounding his hands together like a mad man. The contrast between Berninger's smooth baritone voice and his manic behavior makes for a dynamic performance. During the four-song encore, Berninger leapt off stage again and rushed the audience in the orchestra section. With his impossibly long mic chord trailing behind him, Berninger climbed desperately over anything in his path - be it chairs or people. From the middle of a row, he stood recklessly on a chair, screaming the chorus to "Mr. November" into the faces of ecstatic fans.
When all was said and done, The National played the entirety of High Violet in addition to a number of older songs. Film directors D. A. Pennebaker and Chris Hegedus were on hand to direct the live webcast of the concert that was happening on YouTube (the band addressed the Internet audience a few times), and which you can still watch there (some videos below too).
After the show, a fancy ZYNC-sponsored afterparty was held around the corner at One Hanson Place, aka the Williamsburgh Savings Bank Tower, downstairs in the old bank's bottom floor (now used as an event space). The National, their friends and associates, partied until late with an invite-only crowd that also included members of Grizzly Bear and Beirut, and some celebrities who had attended the show (like Julia Stiles). And there was a lot to party about - recently completed Europe tour and a week of festivities in NYC aside - High Violet is selling really well too. More pictures from the show and the afterparty, with the setlist and some videos below...
photos by David Andrako
The National ended up playing Friday night, Brassland night, at the High Violet Annex, the temporary venue next door to Other Music setup to promote their new record. Before the National were new Brassland signees Buke & Gass who went on around 7:15pm and played for about 20 minutes. Doveman was second and played with the Dessner brothers and Bryan Devendorf for another 20 minute set. The National hit the stage just before 9pm and played eight songs finishing up at 9:45pm. The band hung around and chatted with fans and signed autographs/posed for pictures. Their set list is posted below.
On Saturday, the final night of the High Violet Annex, the first 70 or so people who showed up (at 6PM sharp as advertised) were given a surprise ticket to the BAM show happening that night, and they were in turn bussed there on the "miracle bus". Pictures, video and a full report from BAM
coming shortly HERE.
Tuesday night the High Violet Annex space had DJs. Wednesday night Inlets, Zachary Cale, Helado Negro, Julianna Barwick, The Luyas, Talk Normal, Arlt and Martha Wainwright all played. Thursday had performances by the Antlers, Phosphorescent, Sharon Van Etten and members of the National scoring films. The National also found time to play Letterman that same week.
The band has lots of other shows coming up including Radio City in June and Prospect Park in July.
More pictures from the Annex, the setlist and a video of the band playing "Apartment Story" are below...
As I was saying, The National taped a performance on Letterman yesterday before heading to the High Violet Annex. They brought Sufjan along to both events. The video from Letterman, which aired last night, below...
photos by David Andrako
The Antlers, Phosphorescent, and Sharon Van Etten each played 20-25 minute sets at the High Violet Annex last night (5/13). That was followed by members of The National improvising over projected movies by Margarita Jimeno, Sufjan Stevens, Jonathan Dueck, Deborah Johnson, Ryan Irvin, and Justin Anderson.
The first National-related group was Bryan & Scott Devendorf, trumpet player Kyle Resnick and guitarist/trombonist/Beirut member Ben Lanz (both who also played on Letterman with the National yesterday). The second group was The Dessner Brothers who played along with an 11 minute experimental film that Sufjan Stevens made "using a digital camera while I had insomnia." Sufjan was in attendance (if you haven't figured that out yet) and introduced the song.
It was the third night of the National's temporary venue next door to Other Music. Even more people played live on the second night. It continues for a fourth night tonight/Friday (and ends Saturday) (lineups for those are both TBA, but expect some actual National songs to be played at at least one of them). More pictures from Thursday, below...
photos by Chris La Putt
Martha Wainwright @ the High Violet Annex
As advertised, INLETS, ZACHARY CALE, HELADO NEGRO, JULIANNA BARWICK, THE LUYAS (who came all the way from Montreal for the 20 minute performance), TALK NORMAL, ARLT (from France) and MARTHA WAINWRIGHT played short sets at the National's High Violet Annex space in NYC last night. The makeshift venue was created to promote the band's new album with the same name and will feature a different lineup of stuff curated by the band each night. Last night was the second evening. The first, as mentioned, had DJs that included members of Blonde Redhead. Tonight, night three, will have movies and live sets by Phosphorescent, The Antlers, Sharon Van Etten and possibly others. It's safe to say that The National will play it at least once before it ends Saturday night (right before the show they're playing at BAM). More pictures & some videos from last night below...
DOWNLOAD: Phosphorescent - The Mermaid Parade (MP3)
The National did not play the High Violet Annex last night (5/12), but many others did. A full report is coming shortly, but in the meantime I didn't want to hold back the information that tonight (5/13) will include films by Margarita Jimeno, Sufjan Stevens, Jonathan Dueck, Deborah Johnson, Ryan Irvin, and Justin Anderson. More importantly, there will also be live performance by The Antlers, Phosphorescent, Sharon Van Etten "and more".
For Phos, it will be his first of two shows tonight, though the second one at Mecury Lounge will be a much longer set (tickets are still available). It will also be his second of two shows this week on East 4th Street. High Violet Annex is right next door to Other Music where he played an in-store the other day (5/10). That's four NYC shows total if you count Union Pool in Brooklyn which he/they played one day after that. The Brooklyn gig was packed and front-man Matthew Houk expressed his joy more than once at playing a hometown show. They played almost the entire new album, Here's to Taking it Easy, which is out now. The crowd was singing along to new song "The Mermaid Parade" which you can download above for free.
A video of Martha Wainwright playing the High Violet Annex last night below...
The National's High Violet came out Tuesday. They also used that occassion to release a video for the song "Bloodbuzz Ohio." That clip, which features Matt Berninger, his infamous glass of wine, and documentarian D.A. Pennebaker as a bartender, is posted below.
The band's High Violet Annex events kicked off last night with a low key few hours of DJing from members of Blonde Redhead and a ticket contest for Saturday's BAM show. Contests like that will be happening each day at the space which is next to Other Music. Tonight, Wednesday, there's also a full lineup of bands playing. Lineups for the rest of the nights still TBA.
Speaking of D.A. Pennebaker, he'll be directing a live webcast of the BAM show on YouTube Saturday night. And speaking of ticket contests for the show, we also have two pairs to give away courtesy of the show's sponsor, Zync. Contest details, with the above-mentioned video and a Pennebaker/Dylan (both pictured above) rehash to promote the show, below...
The National's temporary venue next to Other Music in NYC opens on Tuesday, May 11th at 7pm. "Celebrating the release of 'High Violet' (May 11, 4AD), The National will take over the now-vacant space at 13 E 4th St next to Other Music in downtown NYC. Dubbed 'The High Violet Annex' the space will be the site of National curated events throughout the week." Ends up it will only be open for
two three hours a day - a mix of live bands and DJs and contests and other stuff.
The National are rumored to be playing on at least one of the days, but it won't be the first day (5/11 - see below), the second day (5/12 - see below), and maybe it won't be the last day because if it is, the band is going to be in a rush (5/15 - the band plays BAM). The flyer, times and the partial lineup, below...
"Tickets did go on sale at the pre-sale link b/c it now says "No Inventory Currently Available".Comments like that yesterday illustrated the confusion surrounding how to get tickets for the show The National are playing at BAM on May 15th, but Beggars, Bowery Presents & the band's original instructions all confirm that, despite what someone at BAM may have said, tickets do go on general same today at 10am (and appear to be on sale as of 9am for BAM members). Yesterday, as advertised, was just the presale.
If you try to purchase via BAM's website, you get the following message: "Although tickets are on sale, this performance of The National is currently not available online. Please contact BAM Ticket Services"
I talked to someone in the ticket office who said tickets did go on sale via BAM's website this morning and are sold out, but more tickets may become available & to check back" [Brett]
The National performed at Royal Albert Hall in London last night (5/6), and the UK's Electric Ballroom the night before that. All dates HERE. Videos from those shows below...
The National on WNYC's Soundcheck
The National's Brooklyn Academy of Music show on May 15th will be going on presale tomorrow (May 6th) at 10am. Tickets are here (pw: "VIOLET"). They go on general sale through BAM May 7th at 10am. Apparently you don't actually need a ZYNC card to get the tickets. You can also try to win your way in (and get flights and a hotel) through KEXP and via KCRW.
The show is a benefit for the Red Hot Organization (which the Dark Was the Night project also supported) and will be filmed by Don't Look Back D.A. Pennebaker and Chris Hegedus for an Internet simulcast on YouTube.
The National recently appeared on WNYC's Soundcheck, and videos of their performance on that show are posted below...
DOWNLOAD: Cocorosie - Lemonade (MP3)
Shout Out Louds @ White Slab in March (more by Dominick Mastrangelo)
"Some Americans think of Cinco De Mayo as a "Mexican Independence Day," which is actually Sept. 16, when the reality is that Cinco De Mayo is in remembrance of the Mexican army backing down the French military on May 5, 1862. Cinco De Mayo is Spanish for the 5th of May and is not a national holiday in the United States." [Epoch Times]tonight in NYC
* The English Beat @ Maxwell's
* So Percussion @ Carnegie Hall (free)
* Lord Mantis, Sea of Bones @ Union Pool
* Washed Out, Small Black @ The Bell House
* Shout Out Louds, Freelance Whales @ Webster Hall
* Hot Hot Heat, The Willowz, Grooms @ Public Assembly
* Ensemble Simul Cantare, Mick Barr @ Issue Project Room
* Givers, Drink Up Buttercup, King Expressers @ Brooklyn Bowl
* Cheeseburger, Hard Nips, Wizardzz @ Knitting Factory Brooklyn
* Common & Queen Latifah (being actors) @ the Apple Store
* ArpLine, Hooray For Earth, Midnight Masses @ (le) Poisson Rouge
* Dead Stars, Hounds Of Hate, The Hidden Ratio, New Yoga @ Coco 66
* Michael Leonhart & The Avramina 7, Moneybrother @ Mercury Lounge
* Dan Friel, Adult Themes, Food Stamps, Imaginary Weapons @ Bruar Falls
* Bradford Reed, Sabrina Chap, Mike Pride, Get The People @ Death By Audio
* Walter Schreifels, Atlantic/Pacific, Jump Into The Gospel @ Studio at Webster Hall
Hounds of Hate continue their NYC run.
The always-busy Mike Pride describes tonight's Death By Audio show as "MP- drums + Jon Irabagon- tenor sax - We play 3rd, around 10pm. - Get the people features Kevin Shea on drums too!"
Video of The National, who have a show coming up very soon at BAM, playing their song "Little Faith" live in a castle is below.
Ariel Pink's Haunted Graffiti played Mercury Lounge last night.
Dan Deacon is playing a free NYC show this summer.
Look who's playing Lincoln Center's 2010 Out of Doors Festival.
The Fall, whose record release party we hosted last night at Coco66, have a new video for their new song "Bury". Whatch that below too.
Public Image Ltd are now playing a tinier venue later this month.
Joanna Newsom played "'81," one of her new album's best, on Jools Holland. That's below...
...though I don't know when it goes on sale or how tickets are working yet. The show will be a benefit, like Dark Was the Night, for the Red Hot Organization. A live webcast of the concert will be streamed from the Brooklyn Academy of Music on YouTube. The webcast will be directed by documentary filmmakeer D.A. Pennebaker and Chris Hegedus and it'll be the first live (like, actual live, as it happens) concert video directed by the husband and wife. Before the concert they'll show one of their short films. The show is being presented by ZYNC from American Express.
Stay tuned for more info on that, and what exactly will be happening at the High Violet Annex from May 11-15th. Meanwhile, stream High Violet at NPR.
UPDATE: The Zync Facebook page now mentions the show.
Updated National tour dates below...
The National @ The Bell House in March (more by Bao Nguyen)
There's still no word on what will be happening at the The National-curated High Violet Annex May 11th-15th. But the band will be playing at another downtown space today at 2pm for WNYC's Soundcheck. Tickets are long sold out, but you can stream the band's performance at the Greene Space online (video and audio) at WNYC.org or listen on the radio at 93.9 FM and AM 820 (DJ Rob Swift performs too.)
Speaking of Moby, his LES vegetarian/vegan cafe Teany is officially reopening today after a being closed since last June because of a fire. Eater says, "The interior has been restored to its former look, and there's been no word of any menu changes."
"Over the years, [The National's] Matt [Berninger] has accumulated a flock of snide nicknames from his band mates, including the Dark Lord, the Naysayer, Mumbleberry Pie, Mr. Knee Jerk, Mr. Sony Headphones and the Echo Chamber -- the last for the coterie of musically astute persons whom Matt frequently invokes supporting his opinion of whatever song they are arguing about. Since the only one of these gifted listeners Matt has ever introduced to the others is his wife, Carin Besser, who until recently edited short stories at The New Yorker, it is Aaron and Bryce [Dessner]'s belief that Matt is not the only fiction expert in the marriage. Matt's assessment of the situation is: "Everybody thinks everybody else has secret ulterior motives because we all do. We purposefully set up decoys and red herrings to attack a song. That we're all playing mind games is sort of funny, but it's also frustrating."" [NY Times]As promised, the new National album is streaming at the NY Times website now (down the left side next to the article).
The National's temporary NYC venue, the 'High Violet Annex', opens May 11th.
The National @ Big Ears Fest 2010 (more by Andrew Frisicano)
As you may have heard, there is a low quality leak of our new album, High Violet, spreading across the Internet as we speak. We wanted to let you know the New York Times will be streaming the real thing starting Friday April 23rd. We hope you'll take the time to hear the album at its intended level of quality.You can get two officially released tracks from the album above.
High Violet will be released by 4AD worldwide on May 10th/11th.
thanks for your support!
In addition to their upcoming shows (which include Prospect Park in July and Radio City Music Hall in June), the band will be curating 5 nights of events at the 'High Violet Annex' May 11th-15th. Those will put on in conjunction with Other Music (where Scott from the band DJed for Record Store Day). It will be held at "the now-vacant space at 13 E 4th St next to Other Music in downtown NYC." That address seems to have been In Living Stereo Ltd. The flyer and the schedule (which is currently all TBAs) are below...
Record Store Day is fast approaching and we're looking to make this year the best one yet. If you're in NYC on Saturday, April 17, swing by Other Music where we'll be offering lots of special and exclusive Record Store Day releases in the shop, with a great line-up of guest DJs spinning their favorite tunes throughout the day (including Scott from the National and Liquid Liquid's Sal Principato), plus live performances from the Drums and the Pains of Being Pure at Heart. We'll be announcing more details here and on our website in the coming week. And no matter what town you're in, save the date and please support your local independent record stores on Saturday, April 17.It's the only scheduled US date for the Drums, who go to Europe this May and June. For The Pains of Being Pure at Heart, the in-store their only NYC date currently (their upcoming tour with Surfer Blood and Holiday Shores in June doesn't have one yet).
One of the DJs at Other Music will be the National's Scott Devendorf. Brassland Records (co-started by the National) reports that the store will be one of two (Soundfix being the other) to carry the National's second album, Sad Songs for Dirty Lovers, on vinyl for the "1st time in 7 years.!"
The National's new LP, High Violet, is out May 11th on 4AD, and they've been steadily offering up songs from it. The new "Afraid of Everyone," which features Sufjan on backup vox, is available above as is the previously leaked "Bloodbuzz Ohio."
More Record Store Day coverage is on the way today. On a non-RSD note, Phosphorescent has an in-store at Other Music on May 10th.
Videos of two more new National songs, done live at Big Ears 2010, are posted below with (UPDATE: the Other Music schedule)...
"The 2010 Lollapalooza line-up is official: Soundgarden, Green Day, Lady Gaga, Arcade Fire, The Strokes, and Phoenix will headline, joined by Social Distortion, MGMT, Jimmy Cliff, Hot Chip, and The Black Keys. With 130 bands on this year's bill, its sure to be a weekend long feast for the ears.After extremely accurate early leaks and then much teasing, Lollapalooza oficially announces this year's lineup. Check it out below...
It's a monumental year for Lollapalooza, filled with homecomings, reunions, and first-times. Soundgarden, 1992 and 1996 Lollapalooza alumni, return to the Lollapalooza stage for their first performance since 1997. Green Day will rock Grant Park sixteen years after their first Lollapalooza appearance. While Lady Gaga will headline the festival only three short years after playing the BMI stage at Lollapalooza 2007.
Arcade Fire returns to Grant Park, having played the reincarnated Lollapalooza in 2005. This is the first Lollapalooza for The Strokes - and also their first show in four years. And making their Lollapalooza debut: Phoenix." - Lollapalooza
by Alex Lewis
Bryce Dessner (we think) @ the Big Ears Festival (more by Andrew Frisicano)
While in Knoxville for the Big Ears Festival (March 26-28, 2010), you knew you were at the right show if Bryce Dessner was in sight. When The Ex performed Friday night, Dessner was in attendance with his entourage that included his twin brother Aaron and Sufjan Stevens. This turned out to be one of the most exciting shows of the weekend. On Saturday, instead of seeing Vampire Weekend at the Tennessee Theater, he was at the Knoxville Museum of Art for the Big Ears film co-op that featured presentations of experimental films with live improvised performances from a number of the festival's artists. Then again, it was hard to miss Bryce completely, as he performed with Clogs, The National, and in a number of other settings.
The intimate relationship between artists and audience at Big Ears is one of the most unique parts of the experience. This interface takes place partly because Knoxville is small and there are few places for artists to hide. But it's also built into the festival's program and embodied by its co-curator. I met with Bryce at the Knoxville Museum of Art after the film co-op. We discussed the festival, venues in NYC, and more...
How did you get involved with Big Ears?
Ashley [Capps, head of AC Entertainment] called me about a year ago, probably because of Dark Was The Night. But then also because of a much smaller festival that I've run in Ohio for the past 5 years. He was basically just fishing to see if I was interested in coming down [to Knoxville] and doing something. He was very open-minded about what that might be. Originally, he didn't care if The National played. He was more interested in Clogs because we don't often get the opportunity to do something like this. I'm usually wary of curating. Inside Cincinnati I know I can control because it's a very small thing. It's just a very small theater and that's the only venue. It's a very intimate kind of thing and because I've billed it for years now people understand what's going to happen. It's very flexible.
So in the past I've been asked to do other festivals and I've usually said "no", mainly because it's rare to find someone who is open-minded and cool to go with it. So basically Ashley is that person. As much as any musical collaborator that I love and have a great time with, he is that person for this. Working on a festival is so ephemeral and in the moment, that it's kind of my favorite thing in music. More than the commercial side of the industry that's related to releasing records, festivals just happen and then they're over. Especially if there's site-specific going on that's really only happening at that festival. I think that Big Ears is kind of new. It's a different format for hearing music. I got the sense that Ashley was interested in pushing something in that way and that's why I said, "sure".
by Andrew Frisicano
this post concludes our Big Ears 2010 Festival coverage. links to the first two posts are also below...
"When people ask what my favorite place to play is, I tell them about this place. It's like playing inside an Easter egg," quipped My Brightest Diamond's Shara Worden, gazing at the deep-sea blue dome overhead at Knoxville's Tennessee Theater. The psychedelic cavern, a mish-mash of decorative styles and colors, served as the home to the Big Ears festival's largest shows, and its final act on Sunday night, with headliner the National.
The National's presence was felt long before they took the stage - in the hand of guitarist Bryce Dessner, who co-curated the fest, in the National members' supporting gigs, playing behind Doveman, Clogs and others, and in the abundance of friends and fellow Brooklyn-ites in the Big Ears lineup. Of course, those are all connected. One look at the stage during the first song of the National's encore - "Vanderlyle Crybaby Geeks" off their forthcoming High Violet - revealed a selection of Big Ears' top acts - Nico Muhly, St. Vincent, Shara Worden and sometimes-National members Padma Newsome and Thomas Bartlett (Sufjan came out for a song, but not during the encore), all of whom performed earlier in the weekend on their own. (Read here about days one and two)
Attendees also had the chance to opt for music outside of that circle. At Big Ears Annex, Tim Hecker and Ben Frost collaborated for a set of fragile, icy noise (they both played on their own earlier too - Hecker opened for Bang on a Can All-Stars' performance of Music For Aiports and the Books at the TN Theater). Trio Konk Pack took the same stage later for improvised noises, pops and whirs - like the soundtrack to an invisible film. The night before, one could choose between Liturgy and Gang Gang Dance - two bands at the top of their respective genres - while Terry Riley's In C filled the Tennessee Theater to its elliptical rafters.
Around the corner from the Annex at the Pilot Light, KnoEars, an unaffiliated, somewhat anti-Big Ears DIY Fest, hosted an all-day lineup that included homemade noise, Replacements-style punk and more emanating into Sunday's rainy street.
Terry Riley, selected to be this year's resident guide, performed four times over the three days - all in different settings. Other repeat acts like Thomas Bartlett (Doveman), who played with Sam Amidon, the fest's first act (interviewed here), and The National, its last, were frequent Knoxville fixtures for the three-day fest, running to their own gigs or enjoying others'.
"Mr. Riley also enjoyed a fair number of other people's shows, especially the art-song band Clogs. ("They were the hit for me," he said, beaming over breakfast on Monday morning. "Great performers, great writing. I'm going to buy their CD when I get home.")" [NY Times]Doveman and Nico Muhly both played earlier Sunday in a set that included material from their recent Peter Pears project, the Footloose soundtrack, and their 802 tour partner Sam Amidon (who had to catch a flight to Germany). That show's headliner, St. Vincent, provided a counterpoint to their pianos with a set of songs steeped in squealing noise and leveling distortion.
More pictures and videos from the fest are below...
by Andrew Frisicano
Collaborations were the order of the day on Big Ears' Saturday, March 27th schedule (day two). At 1pm, the 802 Tour - Nico Muhly, Thomas Bartlett (Doveman) and Sam Amidon with violist Nadia Sirota - performed songs written by each. The National's Dessner brothers and drummer Bryan Devendorf joined for a selection of full-band Doveman songs, and the finale was a clamoring, epic version of the folk song "The Two Sisters" arranged by Nico (part of the percussion included Nico combing Thomas's hair). Sam played his own set with help from Thomas one day earlier, and later Saturday night.
Before that, the day started with Andrew W.K.'s Q&A-heavy lecture at the Knoxville Museum of Art (he played a set of music the night before) and a Bang on a Can All-Stars set that included works by Dave Longstreth, both at noon. Dirty Projectors performed later in the day (3:45pm) at Tennessee Theatre on a bill that also included DJ/Rupture and William Basinski who went on at the same time as Liturgy (who played at the Big Ears Annex at 2pm and then again at Pilot Light at midnight).
Clogs took the stage at the Bijou Theater with guests as well. Rumors of a solo set by Sufjan Steven circulated, but he only played one of his own songs, "Barn Owl Night Killer," on piano. Clogs were also assisted by Shara Worden, Aaron Dessner and Calder Quartet. Matt Berninger was delayed en route to Knoxville, so he didn't make his duet on "Last Song," for which main Clog Padma Newsome filled in. That wasn't the actual last song - new-album closer "We Were Here" was, which featured Sufjan on vocals and banjo along with Shara Worden and guitar by Aaron Dessner. A similar show happened in Brooklyn a few days earlier.
The Saturday headliners - Vampire Weekend and Joanna Newsom - both played to sold out crowds (Vampire Weekend at the sprawling, ornate-adorned 1600 seat Tennessee Theater with opener Abe Vigoda). Joanna Newsom's set was opened by Fred Armisen aka Jens Hannemann, a master of "complicated drummer technique." Armisen also joined her set for one song to play awkward and out-of-place cowbell.
At the Tennessee, the night ended with Terry Riley's Autodreamagraphical Tales - music from Bang on a Can over Terry reading from his actual dreams (Eastern religion and weed popped up frequently) - and In C, led by BoaC's Evan Ziporyn and featuring the rest of Bang on a Can All-Stars as well as Calder Quartet, Clogs, Nico Muhly, Nadia Sirota, Gyan Riley, and Terry on voice. The open-ended song stretched to an hour, canceling out any chance to catch late night sets from Javelin and Gang Gang Dance. Gang Gang was stil going when I arrived, but the club shut down the power mid-song and flipped on the lights promptly at 3am, sending everyone home.
A recap of Friday is HERE. More pictures and videos from Saturday are below...
by Andrew Frisicano
Sam Amidon, accompanied by Thomas Bartlett, ushered in the first show of the 2010 Big Ears Festival at the Knoxville Museum of Art on Friday (3/26) with "Wild Bill Jones," his own version of the Appalachian folk song, punctuated with a piercing scream half-way through. "These are all folk songs, some from around here," said Sam, which was the right thing to say at the KMA, an institution whose collection and staff brims with East Tennessee pride. After a welcome by festival organizer Ashley Capps (whose AC Entertainment also organizes Bonnaroo) and co-curator Bryce Dessner, Calder Quartet and violinist Iva Bittova led the audience through the folk-inspired world of Bartok, Janacek and guitarist/composer Fred Frith.
A little after 7pm at the gorgeous Bijou Theatre (est. 1909), Terry Riley and his quartet - consisting of his son Gyan on classical guitar, Tracy Silverman on electric violin and Ches Smith on drums and marimba - played a series of extended ragas and genre-morphing songs. By midnight, an ecstatic crowd of all ages filled the hall for the xx. Just a few hours before, University of Tennessee basketball advanced to the NCAA Elite 8, and the partly collegiate crowd carried the celebratory mood to the gig. Some danced in front of their seats or in the aisles, and cheered in anticipation - in one opera box, an exhibitionist couple shared a drunken embrace dangerously close to the railing. Clandestine cigarettes were smoked as the xx performed their moody rock alongside minutely choreographed stage lights.
The earlier jj were even more laid back than the xx, with a sole singer, Elin Kastlander, standing before video projections that included an Italian soccer game, romps on the beach by Elin and co-member Joakim Benon, and whales and other nature scenes. We also got to see Elin roll a big blunt on screen, which might speak to her onstage ambivalence and generally lackluster approach. She did pick up an acoustic guitar once, as did her blond gentleman collaborator, Joakim, for a few numbers. With the music on autopilot, everything else - from the canned "native" beats to the narcissistic video - seemed to follow suit.
The first act had much better luck: Nosaj Thing's post-apocalyptic electronica, riddled with blippy bullets and ghostly echoes, destroyed the darkened theater. The xx gig was one of of the fest's sold out gigs (the others are currently Vampire Weekend and Joanna Newsom) but those with all-access Inner Ear passes ($250 now, but cheaper if you bought earlier) had no trouble finding front-row first-come, first-served seats if they showed at least 15 minutes before doors. The passes are pricey, but a good deal even if you make it to only 1/3rd of the 30-some shows at the fest.
A few blocks away, Andrew WK and the Calder Quartet finished their set with a cover of John Cage's 4'33" - or as Andrew put it "Johnny Cage! Fatality! Mortal Kombat!" The room was divided between those trying to rebel ("Play music!"), those trying to explain the piece ("It's supposed to be people talking"), those shushing, and those just enjoying the spectacle. Andrew returned for an encore of "Party Hard" (piano, voice and crowd participation) and brought out Calder's Eric Byers for a Bach cello piece, accompanied by an interpretive dance by Andrew WK (think "an impressionistic karate kid") dedicated to the late Merce Cunningham.
The compact nature of the participating venues in downtown Knoxville (one mid- and one large-size theater and a handful of smaller club-like spaces) gives Big Ears an intimate feel, and the festival's musicians - most recognizably, Sufjan Stevens, though his only performance is in a supporting role with Clogs (The BQE is being screened too) - can be seen hopping from venue to venue along with the fans.
The difficult decisions of Big Ears day one - Dutch post-punks the Ex against newcomers the xx - only intensify as the festival progresses, with the headliners like Joanna Newsom, Vampire Weekend and composer in residence Terry Riley all going head to head on Saturday.
More pictures and video from Big Ears day one are below...
photos by David Andrako
"Clogs tonight at the Bell House Brooklyn w/ the astonishing Shara Worden and (briefly) Sufjan Stevens: Complex, transfixing, transcendent" - Frank Rose
As promised, Sufjan showed up to perform with Shara Worden and Clogs (featuring members of the National) at the Bell House last night. The whole crew is now off to Tennessee for the Big Ears Festival which kicks off Friday with performances by Sam Amidon, Andrew WK, The xx, Ben Frost and others (full schedule HERE). Some more pictures from last night's Clogs show in Brooklyn below...