full sets: the national

photo courtesy of deirdre o’callaghan

the national has had a profound impact on this site, both directly and indirectly.  our 8tracks account name borrows shamelessly from “vanderlyle crybaby geeks,” and their 2013 album trouble will find me was one of our favorite records of that year.  but the discovery of the band’s extensive catalogue of intricate, melancholy songs was a crucial factor in the creation of this blog, and of a foray into music journalism altogether; their songs were among the first to suggest that pop music could – and should – be digested in a comprehensively analytical manner.  it seems appropriate to highlight the brooklyn quintet at some point during this series.

with such a staggering wealth of material at their immediate disposal, the national no longer need to dig deep to scrape together an hour-long concert.  indeed, most of their recent performances flirt with the two-hour mark, yet they never seem to plod along nor do they come across as long-winded.  take the national’s concert at the sydney opera house forecourt in february of 2014 as an example.  a gargantuan set list approaching the thirty-song mark leans heavily on material from trouble will find me, but that album’s slower, introspective tone is frequently contrasted by staples from high violetboxer, and alligator.  songs like “bloodbuzz ohio” and “fake empire” have aged magnificently, and matt berninger is still capable of conveying post-punk angst on “abel” and “mr. november.”  but somehow, the entire two-hour concert pales in comparison to its final ten minutes; there’s something about watching an entire audience sing along to “vanderlyle crybaby geeks” that just transcends all attempts at adequate articulation.  block out some time to watch the concert below.


don’t swallow the cap

i should live in salt

mistaken for strangers

bloodbuzz ohio


sea of love

hard to find

afraid of everyone

conversation sixteen

squalor victoria

i need my girl

this is the last time



slow show

apartment story

pink rabbits



about today

fake empire

learning (perfume genius cover)


mr. november

terrible love

vanderlyle crybaby geeks


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