The National Returns For Another Sold Out Show

All photos by Wakana Narisako


The National premiered their latest album Sleep Well Beast from top to bottom in Philadelphia this past September to a packed, sold out Union Transfer. The live-streamed performance was only a hint of what their winter tour would be. The Ohio band made their trip back well worth it with another sold out performance at the Kimmel Center’s beautiful Verizon Hall on Monday night.


In a venue that houses the Philadelphia Orchestra, it almost felt wrong to be so casual, and to see a sea of beanies, flannel, and jeans. All that was forgotten as the video montage that led up to the performance showed the band gradually making their way to the stage in distorted colors. The crowd rose to their feet as the band and lead vocal Matt Berninger casually appeared and strolled across stage. This time, they started with their older crowd favorite “Karen,” and then moved on to the first track of their new album, “Nobody Else Will Be There.” The ease of their presence combined with the elegant setting was captivating. The light show played to their advantage as the high ceilings and large organ behind the stage illuminated dramatically. The energy picked up for “The System Only Dreams in Total Darkness.” Berninger performed charismatically through the song that switches back and forth between his low and high ranges with diverse movements.

The National made political statements, unsurpringly, with a band name as bold as theirs. They dedicated “Born to Beg” to Sally Yates, saying they need to dedicate a song to someone good. They also dedicated “Secret Meeting” to Jared Kushner, with a smirk during the line “Didn’t anybody tell you how to gracefully disappear in a room?”

Throughout the show, Berninger threw his mostly full cups of drink across the venue towards the audience. At one point, he impressively got the cup back as far as row Q, right next to where I happened to be standing. Before “Day I Die,” he aimed his cup at the balcony next to the stage, but failed to get it high enough and the cup and drink ended up mostly on the stage and his crew. His playful nature made the show seem more intimate than it was in the expansive performance hall.


As casual as they seem, The National’s performance was perfectly coordinated, from the lighting to the expressions of the performers. The brass players on risers shined during “Bloodbuzz Ohio” and their presence was felt from even the back of the stage. The National continue to tour nationally this winter, selling out most of the venues they grace. Follow their journey on tour and check out their schedule here.



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