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The National Release ‘Juicy Sonic Magic’ Mini-Documentary

Today, The National has released Juicy Sonic Magic via Americanmary.com, a 10-minute mini-documentary in conjunction with their Black Friday Record Store Release of the three-cassette box set entitled The National: Juicy Sonic Magic, Live in Berkeley, September 24-25, 2018. Directed by David DuBois, the film tells the story of late, great concert taper Mike “The Mike” Millard and an homage to his work that was undertaken by archivist and producer Erik Flannigan, who attempted to recreate the legendary taper’s methods by using the same vintage cassette deck and microphones Millard employed in the ’70s to record The National at two Greek Theatre concerts last year. Watch the minidoc HERE and find a record store near you at recordstoreday.com.

Millard became a legend for his high-quality bootleg recordings of artists like Led Zeppelin, Pink Floyd, Bob Dylan and many others made in and around Southern California in the ’70s and ’80’s by sneaking his equipment into concerts hidden in a wheelchair. The film features animation by illustrator Jess Rotter and Eben McCue, plus interviews with Matt Berninger (lead singer of The National), producer/archivist Erik Flannigan and Mike Millard’s friend Jim Reinstein, who pushed Millard and his wheelchair into dozens of shows.

Flannigan explained the idea behind using The Mike Millard Method in the cassette’s liner notes, saying:

The most celebrated audience taper of the period, Mike Millard, recorded in and around Southern California beginning in 1974 and continued into the early ’90s. Millard’s legend is built in part on the cunning and subterfuge he used to get his nearly 15-pound cassette deck and microphones into venues like the The Forum, Santa Monica Civic Auditorium, and The Roxy. 

For years I have pondered what made Millard’s recordings so good, and eventually I had an idea: What if you recorded a concert today with the same equipment Millard used in 1977? Would it sound like his tapes? Would it tap into his Midas touch?

The National was kind enough to let us test the Millard Method for two concerts at the Greek Theatre in Berkeley, California last September. These live recordings were made with vintage AKG 451E microphones and a restored Nakamichi 550 cassette deck which are identical to those used by Millard circa 1975-81. The idea was to see if we could recreate what Matt Berninger calls the “juicy sonic magic” Millard captured in his 1970s field recordings.

Together with my friend and filmmaker David DuBois, we also produced a short documentary about Millard, his recording methods, and our attempt to recreate his work at the National shows in Berkeley, a venue that is utterly unchanged since the ’70s. 

With the advent of smartphones, thousands of people routinely record part of the show when they attend a National concert or any other performance. Forty years ago, when nobody would dare do that, one man made it his life’s work to preserve legendary concerts on tape.

Tracklist for The National: Juicy Sonic Magic, Live in Berkeley, September 24-25, 2018:

NIGHT 1 – Sept. 24th 2018

• Nobody Else Will Be There

• The System Only Dreams in Total Darkness

• Walk It Back

• Guilty Party

• Don’t Swallow the Cap

• Bloodbuzz Ohio

• I Need My Girl

• Green Gloves

• Brainy

• Slow Show

• All the Wine

• I’ll Still Destroy You

• Dark Side of the Gym

• Day I Die

• Carin at the Liquor Store

• Graceless

• Rylan

• Fake Empire

ENCORE

• Light Years

• Mr. November

• Terrible Love

• Vanderlyle Crybaby Geeks

NIGHT 2 – Sept. 25th 2018

• Light Years

• The System Only Dreams in Total Darkness

• Walk It Back

• Guilty Party

• I Should Live in Salt

• Don’t Swallow the Cap

• Afraid of Everyone

• I Need My Girl

• This Is the Last Time

• Wasp Nest

• Born to Beg

• Sorrow

• Apartment Story

• Pink Rabbits

• England

• Day I Die

• Rylan

• Fake Empire

• About Today

ENCORE:

• Lemonworld

• Mr. November

• Terrible Love

• Vanderlyle Crybaby Geeks

The National are currently on tour in support of their latest release, I Am Easy To Find. See all tour dates below.

The National on tour:

11/25 – Warsaw, PL @ Torwar Hall

11/26 – Berlin, DE @ Columbiahalle

11/27 – Berlin, DE @ Columbiahalle

11/29 – Copenhagen, DK @ Royal Arena

12/1 – Bochum, DE @ Ruhrcongress

12/2 – Cologne, DE @ Palladium

12/3 – Zurich, SW @ Samsung Hall

12/4 – Munich, DE @ Zenith

12/5 – Stuttgart, DE @ Porsche Arena

12/07 – Brighton, UK – Brighton Centre^

12/08 – Leeds, UK – First Direct Arena^

12/09 – Cardiff, UK – Cardiff Motorpoint Arena^

12/10 – Nottingham, UK – Nottingham Motorpoint Arena^

12/12 – Lisbon, PT – Campo Pequeno

03/17 – Tokyo, JP – Zepp DiverCity*

03/18 – Tokyo, JP – Zepp DiverCity*

03/21 – Perth, AU – Freemantle Arts Centre*

03/22 – Perth, AU – Freemantle Arts Centre*

03/24 – Sydney, AU – ICC*

03/25 – Sydney, AU – ICC*

03/27 – Brisbane, AU – Fortitude Music Hall*

03/28 – Brisbane, AU – Fortitude Music Hall*

03/30 – Melbourne, AU – Palais Theatre*

03/31 – Melbourne, AU – Palais Theatre*

04/01 – Melbourne, AU – Palais Theatre*

04/03 – Auckland, NZ – ASB Aotea Centre*

04/04 – Auckland, NZ – ASB Aotea Centre*

05/08 – Cincinnati, OH – Homecoming

05/09 – Cincinnati, OH – Homecoming

^ w/Jenny Lewis

* w/ Phoebe Bridgers

About RJ Frometa

Head Honcho, Editor in Chief and writer here on VENTS. I don't like walking on the beach, but I love playing the guitar and geeking out about music. I am also a movie maniac and 6 hours sleeper.

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