I describe The National as a healthy dose of melancholic euphoria, with their live shows placing a strong emphasis on the latter. The crowd at Forest Hills Stadium on Friday night (10/6) punched the air and sang the band’s collection of bittersweet hymns with impressive fluency. Frontman Matt Berninger’s catalogue of twitches and gesticulations channeled a Monster-era Michael Stipe, while the enhanced lighting patterns and huge, colorful LED screens beautifully framed the production so fans at the back of the venue weren't made to wait until Berninger's signature deep-crowd foray for entertainment. Additional percussion, as well as a two-man wind section, were drafted in to provide greater depth to the sound. In just under two hours the band played all but two tracks off new album Sleep Well Beast, and covered Forest Hills royalty The Ramones "The KKK took my baby away” (they'e doing a lot of covers on this tour) before the traditional singalong closer of "Vanderlyle Crybaby Geeks." Matt joked about members of the GOP throughout, with Jared Kushner the target for the majority of his banter.

This, the final show of an impressive summer at Forest Hills Stadium (which included Tom Petty's final NYC performance) had the season end on a high note. UK band Daughter's ethereal, anthemic music made for a great opener. Photos from the whole night are in the gallery above and a picture of the setlist and a few fan-shot videos are below.

---

--

words and photos by Toby Tenenbaum