In defence of dad rock: The National makes it to Massey Hall
The National, a five-piece dad rock band from Brooklyn, arrives in town tomorrow for a two-night stand at Massey Hall. When critics use the term dad rock, typically to describe all-male guitar bands who make capital-A albums of classic rock–influenced songs, it’s pretty much a full-on dis, but we’re actually quite fond of most bands tagged as pro-paterfamilias. For one thing, when they get big enough, dad rock bands, such as Wilco, Fleet Foxes and now The National, like to play at Massey Hall when they come to Toronto.
Unlike most rock venues in town, Massey Hall is an auditorium: there’s seating, there’s no bar noise while the band is playing, and talking is frowned upon. For people who take concert-going seriously (i.e., dads, apparently), these are good things. For a band like The National that’s all about dynamics, ebb and flow, and sharp, precise playing (the drummer is especially awesome), a setting like Massey allows for maximum musical impact.
Of course, we could use the above points to make the case against dad rock: it’s too conservative, too rooted in boomer values, too controlled, too male. But when we have a choice between watching a polished, professional group of beardos play for a devout audience or cramming into some Queen Street bar to check out the next big thing while Scenester McHipster yaps about the next, next big thing through the entire show, we’ll take the former every time.