My mind had been on its own journey all day, often forgetting that it was going to be experiencing The National that night. I thought to myself how seeing The National would help me focus on things other than my life at the moment. I had been anticipating this show for a couple of months now and it was hard to believe I would be seeing them at long last. The National had become one of my favorite bands after my father introduced me to their music so being able to cross them off my must see bucket list was a great feeling.
Upon arriving to the Greek Theatre one would immediately notice the massive line wrapping around the venue. I hopped out of the car and quickly got into line so as to secure a spot as I waited for both my sister and dad. I had never been to the Greek Theatre so I didn’t know quite what to expect and I quite frankly was a bit distressed about not getting a good spot once inside. Within a blink of an eye we were inside the massive theatre. I analyzed the venue and the audience members once I settled into my cozy seat on the side. The venue seemed to provide ample room for everyone which was a pleasant surprise. I waited there patiently for The National to come on but before that The Lone Bellow would provide some entertainment for us.
The band started playing quicker than most; jumping right into their folky Americana setlist. The Lone Bellow was comprised of Zach Williams, Kanene Donehey Pipkin, and Brian Elmquist so the stage seemed a bit big for them, but they filled the airspace with enough sound for all to hear. I wasn’t paying as much attention to the band as they deserved not because they didn’t sound good, but merely because my mind was focused on one thing at the moment: The National. Regardless the crowd seemed to be thoroughly enjoying their performance. Both Zach and Brian often amped up the audience or initiated a unison of clapping. It wasn’t their guitar playing that would inevitably set The Lone Bellow apart but their soul. You could tell that Zach and Brian were truly singing their hearts and souls out. The band cared what they were playing, who they were playing for, and more importantly the message they were sending. This proved to be a distinctive quality of the band and one that the night would carry on with The National. At one point they brought Aaron Dessner from The National onto the stage to play with them. Overall, The Lone Bellow was nothing I took a particular interest in not due to their performance, but more due to my own musical preferences. They had put on a good performance if you were familiar with their work, but I still admired the heart and soul they put into their music
Before you knew it, I had popped up and was manically clapping as Matt and the rest of the band took the stage at long last. “Please, Please, Please Let Me Get What I Want” accompanied the darkness as the band walked on stage. The band opened up with fan favorite “Don’t Swallow the Cap”. The Greek Theatre was a perfect venue for the National to play at. A massive screen captured whatever empty space was behind the band themselves while the stadium provided copious amounts of room not only for the audience but also for the band. Watching the band perform, one could easily tell how comfortable they had become performing in front of an exorbitant amount of people. They sounded as clean and sorrowful as they did on their studio albums. Brothers Aaron and Bryce Dessner were often given segments where they playfully played off of each others sound. In addition, the band treated us to a multitude of new songs often cracking some quirky and subtle jokes beforehand. The band as a whole, communicated well both musically and emotionally. Drummer Bryan Devendorf really united the band with his drumming often adding in multiple beats and utilizing all of his drum kit to create a unique sound that really defines The National. Meanwhile, Matt Beringer sang with the same soulful sadness that accompanies his heartfelt lyrics often encompassing me into a sort of trance and making me completely forget where I was. They played songs spanning from Alligator to their most recent album Trouble Will Find Me engrossing us into a magnificent show for about an hour and forty five minutes cutting their setlist short by a song or two due to the curfew set by the venue. The National had hypnotized the entire theater for the night and sent me into a certain kind of heaven, making me forgot my troubles and if they would ever find me.