Apologies for posting this a little late….the day-job is wreaking havoc on my ability to be human lately…
Down to business.
DC is known as a cultural city, but not necessarily one that enjoys culture of all types. Case in point: The National show at DAR Constitution Hall. Technically the show was “sold out,” but around the block could be seen people trying to sell tickets and even giving them away. What’s wrong with this picture?
Nothing. The National may not be nationally-recognized yet, but they do put on a hell of a show. The fact that DC hasn’t woken up to this fact, well, makes it better for the people who have. The last time they visited DC was with Arcade Fire back in 2007, and everyone at that show knew that these guys were going to be big.
Their fifth album, High Violet, expands on their previous fare, and takes it to a new level. This has been their most heavily-promoted album by far, having played numerous late-night shows and they continue to pop up on the internet seemingly omnipresent.
There were many empty seats as the opener, The Antlers, finished their set. (Not many people looked impressed) The stage setup didn’t change very much for The National’s setup – ambient lighting with high-drapes around the back. Minimal yet effective. In a concert hall of this size, less is more.
Finally they took to the stage – dressed in work-appropriate suits and ties…and started playing songs that definitely let the crowd know they were as serious as their suits.
Opening with their most hooky songs – Runaway, Mistaken for Strangers, Anyone’s Ghost… Dark, danceable tunes, yet infused with The National’s special brand of dark-alt-pop. The energy continued throughout the show…attacking the audience continuously with a cacophony of sound in between soft interludes.
Matt Berninger & co (Aaron Dessner, Bryce Dessner, Bryan Devendorf, Scott Devendof) played every song as if it was the only time they would have in front of this crowd – an emotionally real performance that carried through to the end.
Closing with a masterful 5-song encore, including “Mr. November” and “About Today,” The National reminded the crowd that they are a force to be reckoned with. They’ve been around since 2001, and in their near-decade of music-making they’ve developed a devoted fan-base that continues to grow.
DC gave them a fair second-reception. Their music deserves an overwhelming turnout. Hopefully next time they play in DC, the city will have realized that.
Mistaken for Strangers
Afraid of Everyone
All the Wine
The Geese of Beverly Road
Daughters of the Soho Riots