On The List :: NO @ Glasslands [8.23.13]
Other than opening for Icona Pop on a fun but strange one-off bill, this was NO's "first proper show in New York," their lead singer told an increasingly crowded Glasslands on Friday night. Other than this admission, a special moment for its novelty as firsts are, the particulars of NO's debut on the New York scene were undeservedly banal. Glasslands, even with its newly bourgeois veneer (a bouncer, a rope outside), still lies in the gentrifying industrial wastes of South Williamsburg and fire codes under two hundred. With one great EP already released and an a certainly excellent full-length record to come, this was hardly the conquering entry to New York that this band will likely receive the next time they return to the confines of the city. For those in attendance at Glasslands, or those who caught NO at Mercury Lounge the following night, they had an opportunity to see the moment before the moment, a band about to about to be more broadly popular than either audience or performer entirely predict at a half-full Glasslands on a summer Friday night in August.
The band opened with the pounding, "In Another Life", a song that models the band's methodolgy of big second movements and anthemic choruses. As the song explodes into its finishing kick, the band, a surprising six-piece, churns behind their three guitars, bass, drums and vocals. It's a reversed dramatic irony; they know something that we do not, and each of these arrangements will have a surprising and furious twist. The band motored through single, "What's Your Name," with its prophetic lyric, "Get ready, I'm on my way," EP-track, "There's A Glow" and new songs, "Monday" and "So Scared." Sounding an awful lot like the National, a comparison the band is surely tired of, each arrangement is firm and angular, the band channeled more post-punk than their heretofore recorded material reflects.
Closing with old favorite, "Stay With Me," new song, "North Star," "Long Haul," before a final song that was unannounced and unknown to most of the audience, NO proved a depth and breadth of catalog that both surprised and impressed. They won't return to Glasslands. This night emerged as strictly developmental, a band designed and built to transcend itself in this moment. There was a measure of sadness then, these the fans who would help the band grow, who would be the initial body of their later success, but who might never again see them this close, this available, half-full on a weekend night.