“How does it sound out there?” Matt Berninger asked after kicking off last night’s sold-out Bowery show with a one-two “Start A War”/”Brainy” Boxer combo. A female voice shouted, “Bring up the vocal a little!” After a few laughs, bassist/guitarist Aaron Dessner sighed back, “That’s what they all say.”
It’s true, though; everybody wants to hear what this band is saying, and thanks to Alligator‘s slow-burn and Boxer‘s knockout broody cool, everyone wants to pledge their allegiance to the National. If it sounds like they’re enjoying their time in the spotlight, well, they are. And if it sounds like they’re comfy in their onstage role as critically-adored rock stars, well, almost. Though this was night four of a sold-out five-night run at Bowery (wow), Berninger seemingly took a few songs to embrace the effect his boozy baritone was having on the Ballroom. With “Secret Meeting” (and the crazy applause that welcomed it), Matt put the nail-biting (literally) behind and started basking — to the point that, late in the set, he pulled out a trick he picked up from Win Butler and hurled himself twenty people deep into the Bowery floor. They are learning to be rock stars after all! And we’ve got the MTV clips to prove it.
The show was awesome (drawing from Alligator and Boxer, how could it not be?), and the crowd was there solely to love ‘em up. The National still like to lurk in dim lights and shadows (when they’re not playing on MTV, that is), so the pics are few — but all the more reason for you to see ‘em on their tour, which kicks off Saturday after wrapping up their Bowery residency tonight. And feel free to shout out requests, even if you don’t know their stuff. “Play a new song!” one dude yelled after a stunning “Slow Show.”
“That was a new song,” Matt smiled. “But thanks for asking.”