The National are releasing a new album and chose the Michelberger Hotel as their showcase venue. We were invited and obliged.
The Michelberger Hotel in Friedrichshain was new turf to me. Oddly, I don't frequent hotels and their bars in Berlin. However, I was very positively suprised. Their hotel bar is nothing like other dull hotel bars. It's one big art installation all by itself, with a very funky bar and staff to show for. And cupcakes, chocolate and peanut butter flavour. I was sold. Most likely, I will come here again.
Having anticipated spring, the stage had been built into the enclosed courtyard of the hotel. Unfortunately, this was at a time when spring was not even on the horizon. My bf's pleas to dress nicely for the occasion when in vein, when were having our coats on, freezing. Lucky for us, we then managed to secure a spot in the bar from which the stage was visible, saving our feet from frostbite.
The National played the new material, as is customary for album release showcases, then added some hits near the end, for the fans, you know. You may have guessed that The National are not entirely my cup of tea. It's very middle of the road American indie rock, though well-crafted. I don't own their records, nor have I ever paid to see them play. Having said that, they provide to me a distinct familiarity when their songs are played on the radio when I drive my car. I get this funny feeling you get when you drive home to your parents - somewhere between cringe, nostalgia and anticipation. And that was pretty much the feeling I had that evening watching the band play in this beautiful setting, with wonderful projections on the walls of the hotel.
Fans of The National loved every second of it - you could see it on their faces. They danced (and kept warm) and gave their heroes admiring smiles. There were Berlin's editorial starlets as well as competition winning fans, the band's music machineray representatives and journalists. It was a grand setting with an eclectic and exstatic audience. The National truly got celebrated for their album release.
My favourite moments of the night: the afore-mentioned cupcakes and a keyboard-stroke-trombone player who manged to play both instruments at the same time. Good fun all around.
PS: See a bunch of videos from the gig in J.'s blog post.