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Back to Section One | Back to Arts & Entertainment
posted Friday, September 17, 2010 - Volume 38 Issue 38
The National a perfect fit for Marymoor Park
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The National a perfect fit for Marymoor Park

by Jessica Price - SGN Contributing Writer

The National
September 11
Marymoor Park


The National are a band that will be forever married to the weather in my consciousness. Lost in the understated intensity of 2007's Boxer a few springs ago, I was overtaken by a momentary hailstorm one grey afternoon on Pike Street as sudden ice pellets careened off my umbrella. Another time, I found myself so caught up in the brooding, almost-in-secret-code lyrics of Alligator that I walked straight through a busy downtown intersection, unaware that the light had changed, and narrowly avoided being run down by a justifiably annoyed commuter.

As a part of the 2010 Marymoor Park Concert Series, Brooklyn-based band The National landed in Redmond on a suitably chilly evening hinting at fall. "Runaway" gently nudged the languid, blanket-sprawled crowd to attention; Matt Berninger's velvety baritone unfolding crisp and clear from the outdoor stage. The rest of the band - inclusive of two pairs of brothers: Aaron and Bryce Dessner and Scott and Bryan Devendorf (as well as a two-piece horn section on tour) - wove simple layers around Berninger's voice on "Anyone's Ghost" and "Mistaken for Strangers," the latter single launched surprisingly early on. The National's set shifted between the bulk of new album High Violet ("Bloodbuzz Ohio," "Afraid of Everyone," "Conversation 16," and the lovely "England") and generous dips into Boxer ("Brainy," "Slow Show," "Apartment Story") and Alligator. Berninger's self-effacing banter poked fun at his penchant for slightly morose material, joking that the crowd should "see him opening Christmas presents." Nevertheless, punchier songs like "Mr. November" reinforced that The National does indeed know how to rock. The band's trademark sound walks the line between anthem and lullaby so deftly that it's hard to guess what will come next or how a song might end once it begins. "Fake Empire" and its shimmering, genetic twin "Terrible Love" closed the main set and encore, respectively, capturing the smartly atmospheric swell the Cincinnati natives have perfected.

The crowd was a mix of blissed-out couples (Gay and straight), fans who seemed expressly familiar with the band's entire catalog, and a handful of hip parents taking their kids to an all-ages show in Marymoor's picturesque locale. The outdoor sound system didn't carry opener Okkervil River very well, but for The National's deeper, moodier tones, the setting - and the sound - were perfect complements.

High Violet was released in May. After touring for the rest of 2010, the band will swing through Europe and Australia - and with any luck, back through the Northwest again.

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