Detractors of New York quintet The National tend to tag the band as boring. It's easy to understand the complaint, too, as The National comprises five relatively handsome, well-dressed men playing competent and consistent indie rock concerning the perils of love and life in the city and the internal and external turmoil of balancing your own identity with the needs of those around you. It is decidedly inward-facing music, drawn outward by guitars, drums, bass and a tall frontman who leans into his microphone like it's a crutch. But live, the compositional tension and self-reflective worries of The National's music turn themselves inside out; sing-alongs become external mirrors with which listeners can find a company of misery and worry. Confident in his vulnerability, lead singer Matt Berninger becomes the shaking hand on the shoulder, asserting that it'll be all right, even as his songs suggest otherwise.
The Dirty Projectors open, visiting the area for the first time after the release of last year's Swing Lo Magellan. One of the most musically adventurous and sophisticated bands to surface within indie rock's purview during the last several years, The Dirty Projectors push R&B, West African guitar, math rock and American folk music into the same pristine quarters. < —Grayson Currin