The National doesn’t exactly travel at the speed of light, especially with no less than eight people performing at DAR Constitution Hall. For such a large venue, that’s probably a good thing, and the band was able to fill the auditorium with an impressive amount of energy, especially for a Sunday night. Acoustics at DAR aren’t great, but that’s hardly the National’s fault (I wasn’t alone in this, when the band mentioned the 9:30 Club, a significant part of the crowd shouted “Go back!”).
Venue aside, they put on an excellent show, starting with a hauntingly minimal “Runaway”, and switching styles and instruments like it was their jobs. Matt Berninger has an excellent stage presence, better than one might expect from their albums. And drummer Bryan Devendorf was pretty engaging as well. At one point, during “Mr. November”, Berninger climbed up far into the fan filled balcony and later commented that the crowd was a lot more civilized than he was used to, no one tried to rip his clothes off and people politely let him through. The band also claimed their next album will be called Rocketboat, but that was probably a joke.
If you missed the National this time around, don’t worry, there are plenty of chance to see them elsewhere on their ridiculous world tour, in which they cross the Atlantic nearly five times before December.