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Coachella 2011: The National moves through a mixture of old spells and new haunts

April 17, 2011 | 11:11 pm

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Standing up close at a Coachella set comes with its hazards: You're crunched in, you can smell everyone, you can't get out if there's an earthquake or a four-alarm fire but alas, you get rewarded, if you stand for the right band. The National, the wine-drinking raconteurs from New York, turned in a ferocious set on the Outdoor Stage, one that trotted out a mixture of their old spells and new haunts, only to slay them for a crowd that shouted nearly all the disaffected lyrics. They've been touring for a while in support of "High Violet," so they should be ready with knives.

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After dispensing with a taut take on "Bloodbuzz Ohio," the band plumbed the depths of liquor-soaked ennui with "England," which transported the audience to the rainy streets of London, where a wanderer can find more things to be sad, or can  uncover some kind of redemption. Bryan Devendorf's drums chased frontman Matt Berninger, whose voice carries a sense of casual doom. Even when Duran Duran's '80s revivalism bled into the set, the National barely seemed to mind, instead sending out more ripples of dramatic rock for the people to catch and ride.

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--Margaret Wappler

 

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