by Iain McDavid
Cincinnati, for me, has always been contradictory and
confusing. After living here for so long I’m still ambivalent as to how I feel
about it. The National certainly pushed me in the more positive direction
with their show Oct. 4 at Emery Theatre. The
Cincy-bred band summoned fans with a free show in support of
President Obama and filled the historic venue, front to back.The National’s set was evidently well thought-out, opening
with the powerful "Mistaken for Strangers," with the vocals and drums
seemingly soaring through the theater.
If you haven’t had a chance to catch a show at Emery Theatre (my first
experience was last week), you should certainly make that a priority. The theater, coupled with a band like the
National, truly makes for an unforgettable experience. The venue alone creates a sense of intimacy
between audience and act, something that is usually sacrificed to see your
favorite bands.From the very start of
the set, the audience was completely engaged with the boys on stage, bursting
into cheers and applause at the every songs beginning and end (and even during
songs at times). The only drawback for me was the fact that Matt Berninger would
simply not let me forget that the show was political. It seemed as if in
between every song some sort of Democratic rhetoric (not that the other side’s
rhetorical strategies are any better) was interjected. Something about the importance of voting, or how
privileged we are, which is somewhat obnoxious at that point. It’s highly
doubtful that anybody was suddenly converted by The National, and even more so
that anyone in attendance last night was slightest bit unsure about their vote. I suppose that’s mostly my fault, though — I should expect such from a campaign
All that aside, the audience was left in a state of bliss by
the concert's end, as The National closed out their set with an unplugged
version "Vanderlyle Crybaby Geeks." Earlier in the night, I had spoken to a
friend who had said the venue was acoustically pure, meaning that even without
any sort of amplification, the sound would still resonate throughout the entire
theater — and he couldn’t be more right.
The sound was not hindered in any way (I was a few rows back) and it
carried through the historic site as if I was the only one there. The closer truly unified the entire show into
a ecstatic experience that I will certainly not forget. Click here for more photos from the concert.
by Stefanie Kremer
GottaVote concert drew hundreds of Obama supporters and opponents alike
Members of Brooklyn, N.Y.-based Cincinnati natives The National
knew they could lose fans if their band became vocal supporters of
Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama back in 2008.
“When we publicly started supporting Obama, we did have a
lot of fans that were upset about that and just thought, ‘you should
keep your political opinions to yourself,’ ” lead singer Matt Berninger
told reporters before their Thursday GottaVote concert sponsored by the
“And I actually totally understand that and in many ways
almost agree. I don’t want to be preached to by the Rock bands that I
The band drew a mixed crowd of 750 people to the intimate show at The Emery Theater on Thursday. The concert’s purpose was to encourage attendees to vote for
Obama in the Nov. 6 election and encourage Cincinnatians to take
advantage of Ohio’s early voting. While the band’s support for Obama has drawn some vitriol
(fans made comments like “fools” and “shame on you” on Facebook posts
announcing the shows in support of the president) it didn’t stop everyone
who didn’t plan on voting for Obama from coming to the concert.
Adam Kesee, 25, is not an Obama supporter. He explained that he
was at The Emery to see The National perform anyway — just as long as
they didn’t devote the whole show to politics.
"I do not think music and politics should mix," Kesee
explained. "It's OK if you play to support a candidate you like, but
don't expect everyone to share your views and do not bog down the
concert with political views."
The National plays a GottaVote concert for the Obama campaign in CincinnatiCatie Viox
[Photo gallery: The National plays in Cincinnati Oct. 4]Despite their recent outspoken support of President Obama
and their series of shows dedicated to rallying support in 2008, 2010 and 2012,
Berninger and guitarist Aaron Dessner said they never saw their band
going in such a direction.
“We didn’t want our band to be a political band … most of
our songs are love songs or songs about drinking — we don’t think of
ourselves as socially conscious songwriters or anything,” Berninger
He said that during the George W. Bush administration,
they started to feel a responsibility to get involved — even if their
band took a hit. He cited his 3-year-old daughter as the context
through which he sees politics — he’s worried about the way her world
will be shaped.
"Where our country is now is more important than our Rock
and Roll band," Berninger said. "If it hurts our band, that's OK
Although some of The National's songs seem to hold
political themes, including "Mr. November," the majority of the songs
performed were rock songs written about love and loss including the
popular "Bloodbuzz Ohio" and "Fake Empire."
An intense performer, Berninger didn’t get so enthused
about performing for Obama that he slipped "Vote Obama," into the
lyrics, or devote the majority of the performance to campaigning. Aside
from two young campaign volunteers speaking at the beginning of the
concert, the president was not even mentioned until introducing the
third song, "I'm Afraid of Everyone," written, Berninger said, about a
desperate plea for the truth.
In exchange for free tickets to see The National, attendees were expected to volunteer their time for the Obama campaign.
Many concertgoers explained that they would gladly offer
their time to support the campaign. Others said that they were strictly
in attendance to see The National and do not plan on knocking on doors
or making phone calls to support the president.
"I don't really have the time and I don't really care about politics that much," said Kedharhneth Sairam, 24.
The crowd may not have been full of Obama supporters, but
they were still supporters of The National. The band’s GottaVote tour
included a Wednesday stop in
both Columbus and Cincinnati. Along with performing for fans, the band
took to the streets with clipboards encouraging students on the campuses
of The Ohio State University, Xavier University and Berninger’s alma
mater, the University of Cincinnati, to sign up to vote.
CityBeat staff writer Andy Brownfield contributed to this report.
by Mike Breen
Locally-bred Indie Rock sensations The National give away tickets for volunteer support
Good news/possibly bad news for those hoping to attend the special appearance by Cincy-bred/Brooklyn-based Indie Rock stars The National Thursday at The Emery. The good news: tickets will be available on Wednesday. The (possibly) bad news (depending on your busy schedule and/or support for Barack Obama) is that you can only get one ticket and you have to agree to do some volunteering for the Obama campaign. To get details, sign up on the President's GottaVote campaign website here.Once you do that, you'll get this message: Get a ticket to see The National in Cincinnati
To get a ticket, beginning Wednesday, October 3rd at 10:00 A.M. stop by an OFA-OH office listed below and volunteer.
Tickets will be required for entry to the event. One ticket per person.
1112 Walnut Street
Cincinnati, OH 45202
Doors open: 7:00 P.M.
OFA-OH Over the Rhine Office
1130 Main Street
Cincinnati, OH 45202You'll also be able to get a ticket (according to the email you'll be sent) at the OFA-OH Woodburn Office, 2718 Woodburn Ave. Good luck!
Latest updates for this week's MidPoint Music Festival and news on The National's upcoming concert
0 Comments · Wednesday, September 26, 2012
Get the latest updates for this week's MidPoint Music Festival and news on The National's upcoming concert at the Emery Theatre on a mini-tour for Barack Obama.
by Mike Breen
Would you pay to see your favorite musicians if the money went to your least favorite politician?
What's your favorite musical group/artist of all time? Got it? Good.Who are you voting for this upcoming election for President of the United States? Got it? Good.Now let's say that favorite artist of yours was coming to Cincinnati to perform. Let's say it's a remarkably intimate show with limited tickets. And let's say you've got a friend who can get you a ticket to purchase. Let's say it's $35. But here's the catch — your favorite group or solo artist is making their concert a fundraiser for the guy you REALLY don't want to be President. Do you suck it up and pay the admission/donation for a chance to see a once-in-a-lifetime concert? Maybe make a bigger donation to your guy's campaign? Or do you refuse to do anything that may, in even the smallest way, affect the outcome of … well, possibly American history. Cincinnati-bred/Brooklyn-based band The National has just announced a special last-minute pair of shows in Ohio next week, including a show at the revitalized Emery Theatre in Over-the-Rhine on Oct. 4 (they play the Newport Music Hall in Columbus on Oct. 3). The concert — which comes a few weeks before the band headlines the Freedom to Love Now! marriage equality-supporting concert in New York City — is a benefit for "Gottavote: Ohio," President Barack Obama's campaign to get Ohioans registered and voting. The band will also reportedly play a private fundraising function in Cincinnati for Obama right after the Emery show. Searching around for ticket info (details have yet to be announced; we'll update this post when they are), I came across the event's page at Last.fm, where an apparent big National fan left the post's sole comment: "Obama fundraiser...What a moral dilemma…"As a hardcore lefty and big National fan, I personally have no dilemma in this situation, but I sympathize with the commenter. What if The National had a change of heart since last performing for Obama in Cincinnati (a huge, free outdoor show on Fountain Square with The Breeders in 2008) and the members were disillusioned by the President's first-term actions (or inaction), built up impressive balances in their bank accounts and decided the best way to protect America (and their money) was to go out and do whatever they could to get Mitt Romney elected. Would you still go? "Shut up and sing" is an oft used saying for people who think politics and music have no business being in bed together. But if the artist shuts up and sings, but just so happens to give your admission fee to a politician you despise, what do you do?Personally, I stay home and wait until the artist's next show. Luckily for me, deciding not to go to a Mitt Romney concert/benefit featuring Kid Rock, The Oak Ridge Boys and Hank Williams, Jr., is not a hard choice in the slightest.
by Mike Breen
Cincinnati natives to be featured on second season sountrack album
The Cincinnati natives of hugely popular Brooklyn-based Indie Rock band The National have recorded a song for the upcoming soundtrack for the second season of HBO's critically-acclaimed series, Game of Thrones. The soundtrack is due June 19. The National is the only group featured; the rest of the soundtrack album is the instrumental score, written by Ramin Djawadi and recorded by the Czech Film Orchestra and Choir. According to Spin, the band members took the words from Game of Thrones creator George R.R. Martin's 2000 novel, A Storm of Swords. Check it out below.
Bryce Dessner doubles down on his dedication to 7-year-old festival
0 Comments · Tuesday, March 27, 2012
MusicNOW is aptly named. Founded and still nurtured by local
native Bryce Dessner, the festival has consistently delivered an
eclectic mix of “contemporary music” since springing to life in 2006.
May 14 • Memorial Hall
0 Comments · Tuesday, May 10, 2011
Though less thematic than Friday’s MusicNOW roster, Saturday’s lineup features an equally fascinating collection of artists covering even more musical ground. Owen Pallett is a Canadian musician better known as — yet another “one-person-band”! — Final Fantasy, the name he used for his first three solo albums. The classically-trained violinist’s music earned him a solid following, particularly in his homeland, and has drawn comparisons to Andrew Bird, Scott Walker and The Divine Comedy.
May 13 • Memorial Hall
0 Comments · Tuesday, May 10, 2011
The MusicNOW festival has earned a reputation for being a fest unlike the rest thanks to The National guitarist Bryce Dessner’s ability to lure kindred artistic spirits to his annual hometown showcase of progressive Indie music. MusicNOW participants have been explorers of the avant-garde edge of Neo Chamber, Experimental, Indie music and many points prior, between and beyond, ranging from esoteric underground artists to niche specialists to some of the more popular names in the Indie universe.
0 Comments · Wednesday, March 9, 2011
In 2006, Cincinnati native Bryce Dessner of The National launched the MusicNOW festival, bringing unique and creative artists and Indie music heavyweights to his hometown for a unique and subsequently much-anticipated springtime event. With a global profile as high as it's ever been, The National will headline MusicNOW 2011's final night May 15.