On The List :: NO @ Mercury Lounge [3.22.14]
Taking the stage north of 12:30, a time that was, "the latest show [they've] ever played" according to lead-singer and part-time conductor, Bradley Carter, Echo Park denizens NO arrived in a New York market they are still in the process of conquering. Bridging the gap between Saturday night and Sunday morning, a crowd fueled by liquid courage and plunging inhibitions sang along with the band's post-National jams (what to do in a facsimile of the fake empire?) - one of those rock concerts that makes the viewer think: "Why aren't these guys absurdly famous?" and "I know why these guys aren't absurdly famous yet." in the same moment.
Of course, none of this has anything to do with the music, one of the general absurdities of seeing bands in 2014, because the music itself represents a titanic slice of indie rock. NO is a six-piece, a gut feeling of one-too-many. The arrangements were tight and sizeable, Carter flourishing his hands - he doesn't play anything but in a different way than Matt Berninger doesn't play anything - as the band proceeded in and out of breaks. Carter alighted to the idea of being our David Blaine for the evening on songs like "Long Haul" and "Another Life": He knew how the tricks went, but it doesn't hurt to raise ones eyebrows and hands as if to say, "Not bad, right?" at the critical moment of the reveal.
Will the indie rock world have room for one more at the table, for a band that easily could be called Mistaken For Strangers and tour the country as a National cover band? It's an unfair metric for a good group of musicians sporting a strong crowd late on Saturday night. They should reasonably be playing at Webster Hall with the Augustines and Frightened Rabbits of the world; there is little difference in market or quality. The group vocals, and there were a lot of them, moved the audience and band together. Whatever the future holds, there are worse things to be than a hotly buzzed band from LA playing downtown in New York, and New York, as well as the rest of the country will be hearing and seeing a healthy measure more of them as the continue to snowball through 2014.