The National, Baby Dayliner and Doveman join forces. - Oh My Rockness

Recommended Show
May 10, 2006
Well, what a good little show we have here. The National AND Baby Dayliner AND Doveman? You deserve to get dessert with your dinner on this Sunday night, because you're saving serious money by seeing all three of these great groups in one sure shot.

I try to tell everyone I know that The National's Alligator album was my favorite record of 2005 (slightly edging out Pelican's). Like they'll say, "Where did you get those pants?" and I'll say, "The National's Alligator was my favorite record of 2005." Then they nod and slowly back away. My obsession is strange because it took me a good six months to get into it. When their record first landed on my unremarkable desk (it's just kind of brown), I gave it a quick listen, sort of shrugged my shoulders, and had the overwhelming feeling of "ehhh." It neither offended nor inspired, so I hung up its cleats. A couple seasons later, for whatever reason, I ceremoniously "unretired" the album and tried again. This time, the songs stuck. Maybe it's because my mood wasn't right before, or maybe I bowed to peer pressure. But probably, it was better going down the second time around because The National's songs need repeated listens in order to "get" what they're all about. They're catchy, but not immediately so. Their guitars have hooks, but they're a little bit hidden. And singer Matt Berninger may sing melodically, but it takes awhile for the melody to escape from his bass. If you're like me and listened to The National once and were left unimpressed, try them again. And if you still don't like them, go see them live. They're much more rockin' in person.

Also playing is the delightful Baby Dayliner, the stage moniker of NYC's Ethan Marunas. If you broke this music down to its elements, Baby Dayliner could sound like a very, very bad idea. Frank Sinatra-meets-Ian Curtis vocals over a drum machine that pumps out mostly cheesy dance beats does not sound like my idea of a good time. Yet miraculously, BD pulls it off. It's obvious Marunas delights in his songs, and his brilliant stage presence guarantees we also share in his joy. There is no snarkiness and snobbery in the irony that's at work here. If there were, this music would mostly likely fail. If you heard Baby Dayliner on disc and weren't that impressed... that's just not the whole picture. Simply listening to Baby Dayliner's music is like an IM-only relationship. It's incomplete and you might just misinterpret the subtext. But once seen, your eyes and ears will believe. Plus, his shows just really make for a fun night.

Opening is Doveman (Thomas Bartlett and his band). They play laidback tragic-pop in the vein of Nick Drake (Bartlett's voice sounds a LOT like Drake) and maybe a little Iron and Wine, too. With guitars, banjos, organs, horns, pianos and a Wurlitzer, all never played above a hush, this is sad music that also soothes. Call it cathartic, rather than just plain depressing. It definitely will be interesting to hear the transition from Doveman's mostly mellow music to Baby Dayliner's decidedly NOT mellow music. Guess we'll just have to get a ticket and hear for ourselves.

The National, Baby Dayliner and Doveman play Webster Hall, on Sunday, May 21st


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