The National

Lollapalooza--Grant Park--Chicago

August 03, 2008

BY JASON SONGE


Why didn't they put Girl Talk on a bigger stage? The crowd was shoulder to shoulder, and I was nowhere near the party up front, so I took off for The National at the Playstation stage.

When I was 16 or 17, before I could get into real venues, I used to go see local band Project NIM a bunch. Two schoolmates, the Milling brothers, were in the group. My introduction to Frenchmen Street was a gig they had at the venue above The Blue Nile. I remember standing on the balcony, looking out onto the street, and thinking, "If I get left here, I will NEVER find my way home."

Anyway, the twins and the drummer from Project NIM ended up in The National. I was told this by Arthur Mintz, and I did believe him, but I couldn't confirm it until I saw them at Lollapalooza. That's definetely the drummer.

The National's sleepy melancholy was a nice change of pace from the frenetic Girl Talk. Their songs are meticulously constructed, almost like they were watching a film while writing them. Super stylistic, these little movements.

From this, maybe you'd think they're not a great live band. Untrue. The lead singer carried the pressure of performance like a medal, getting emersed in the songs. To the point where I felt for him. He paced the stage, stalking back and forth aimlessly like you do when you're out of your head. He did this during the most intense moments, when he was screaming. He was in a different world, completely riding his wave. He punched his fist into his palm a few times in an intense moment. That's something I do when I get hopelessly deep into music.

I like this band, and I was happy they played "Mistaken for Strangers." That's my favorite of theirs. "Slow Show" was a highlight because it was more romantic than wistful or brooding.


SETLIST:


Start A War
Brainy
Secret Meeting
Baby, We'll Be Fine
Slow Show
Mistaken For Strangers
Abel
Squalor Victoria
Racing Like A Pro
Apartment Story
Ada
Fake Empire
Mr. November


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