A collection of musically themed musings by Brendan Bush in Burlington, VT

Mail: PO Box 1556 | Burlington, VT 05402

Wrapup: Midlake @ Le National, 5/20/2010

Filed Under: Concert Reviews, Live Shows

Written by Brendan

Friday May 21, 2010

I first saw Midlake in the back stage of the Black Cat (D.C.) in 2006. They, along with Cold War Kids, were opening for Sound Team. A pretty damn good billing in retrospect, though I hadn’t heard of any of them at the time. I can’t say that I remember much of the Midlake set, so I’m thankful I got to see them again last night, and I will definitely not forget that show for a while.

I got really nervous when we first walked in – there wasn’t a single person in the bar area and the woman at the ticket booth knew who we were when we walked up to pick up our will-call. I just wasn’t ready for another empty show – my soul couldn’t take it. Luckily, there turned out to be a fairly decent crowd when we made it into the stage area.

Midlake @ Le National, Montreal - May 20, 2010

We caught one song from the second opener and were able to easily make our way down to the front as Midlake got set up. A few minutes before they came out, a remote-controlled helicopter flew out from the backstage and hovered around menacingly, seemingly taunting the audience. Oddly, people didn’t really seem to notice.

Midlake, who I was expecting to be a five-person band, rolled out on stage seven deep. That amounts to one person on the piano/flute/secondary percussion, four guitars (variably acoustic and electric), one bass and a drummer. I didn’t know until I was reading more about them this morning, but the initial band met in college, where they were all studying jazz music. Their depth of musical talent was apparent – never before have I been to a rock show where not just one but two of the band members played the flute (not to mention the two recorders that were played).

Midlake @ Le National May 20, 2010

Midlake’s sound is layered with richness and depth (thanks in large part to the 4 guitars). Their live performance really brings the music on their albums to life, lending it such sullen emotion and character. They played a good selection from both “The Trials of Van Occupanther” (2006) and their new release, “The Courage of Others.” The standout to me would probably be Roscoe, which in addition to being one of my favorite songs, was played masterfully. But seriously, there was not a bad song among them. There wasn’t much dancing, but there was enough tapping, bobbing and nodding to tell that the whole place felt the same way.

Tim Smith, the lead singer, definitely has a pretty reserved demeanor onstage, and actually seemed to be a little embarrassed at times when Eric Pulido, one of the guitarists and secondary vocalist, talked to the audience. For a band with such a serious sound, the stage banter was surprisingly fun and light-hearted. Midlake had some gear stolen a few nights before, and told the tale of yet another attempt at robbing them the night before the show, an attempt thwarted by one of the band members who ran down the would-be thief and tripped him.

Tim Smith of Midlake @ Le National May 20, 2010

Midlake are masterful, sorrowful, soulful musicians and the show last night was an impressive display of it all. I’m definitely looking forward to their next visit to this area.

On a semi-related note, I still have a lot of work to do on my photography and post-production work, but I am loving my new Panasonic DMC-LX3 camera, which took the photos in this post.

Note: All photos are copyright © 2010 Brendan Bush unless otherwise noted. You are free to copy, distribute and transmit them as long as proper attribution is given, in accordance with this Creative Commons policy.

3 Responses to “Wrapup: Midlake @ Le National, 5/20/2010”

  1. Rachel says:

    On an additional note- the production of this show was absolutely fantastic. The lights were beautiful and lent a real power to each song and the sound was crisp and balanced. Having seen other shows at Le National with poor sound quality, Midlake’s team definitely used a great venue to their best advantage.

  2. EchoWhiskey says:

    Very nice photos. I was looking at this camera along with Canon S90 as a new compact to carry around to shows. Got sidetracked, but this makes me want to investigate the options again. Did you take these shots hand held?

    • Brendan says:

      yeah the photos are all hand held. f2.0 with little to no zoom. some of them still came out blurry, but this is definitely the right camera for shows where you can’t bring an SLR. Both Pennebaker (who also owns one) and the guy at the camera store recommended this independently as being good for low-light situations.