The National enthrall a waterlogged crowd at the Mann Center (photos, review, setlist) - WXPN | Vinyl At Heart

All photos by Noah Silvestry |

Brooklyn based indie rock group The National made a stop in Philadelphia as part of their tour supporting their most recent album, Trouble Will Find Me. Torrential rainfall as a result of remnants of tropical storm Andrea did not sway the fans nor the band from putting on an incredible musical experience, but the contrary: The National listeners ranging from soggy to dripping were brought together through their collective wetness and love for what Stephen Colbert dubs “the hippest indie thing out there”.

After taking the stage with their typical low-fi video tour following the group through the backstage corridors all the way onstage, this band “about songs” (as Annie Clark of St. Vincent categorizes them), opened up with “Don’t Swallow The Cap” off the new record, a song that confirms many fans’ suspicion that saturnine baritone frontman Matt Berninger has a bit of Kurt Cobain of Nirvana in him. He evokes the latter’s sophomore album in the song’s refrain. The band rested primarily within their most recent two albums for the next 10 songs, taking down the tempo twice with “Demons” and “I Need My Girl”, the latter being a track Berninger describes as not being full of witty metaphors, but simply about missing his wife. That is not to say Bryan Devendorf, the drummer with a striking resemblance to John Lennon, is afraid to take up the tempo, as they bring out Squalor Victoria where Berninger proves that not only does he channel the late Nirvana frontman, but has the vocal cords for the job as well. They reference the rain late in the set, performing the meticulously orchestrated “England”.

Having played half the show with just their more recent material, the stylish band of brothers brings out a song they describe as something would have played at Philadelphia music club, The Khyber: the beautifully melancholic “Daughters of the SoHo Riots”, and remain on their third album, 2005’s Alligator , with another “screamer”, “Abel”. The set concluded with “Fake Empire”, their topical anthemic hit off critically acclaimed 2007 album, Boxer. For their 4 song encore, fans appreciated “I Should Live in Salt”, “Mr. November”, “Terrible Love”, and an all-acoustic sing-along rendition of “Vanderlyle Crybaby Geeks”, as has become a tradition with the band.

Fellow Brooklynites, Dirty Projectors, joined The National as the opening act, pleasing the wet crowd with their eclectically original style, strong in high orchestration and striking vocal harmonies. Suffice it to say, fans arrived home soaked, yet nonetheless enthralled.

Don’t Swallow the Cap
Bloodbuzz Ohio
Mistaken for Strangers
Sea of Love
Afraid of Everyone
Conversation 16
Squalor Victoria
I Need My Girl
This is the Last Time
Daughters of the Soho Riots
Pink Rabbits
About Today
Fake Empire

I Should Live In Salt
Mr. November
Terrible Love
Vanderlyle Crybaby Geeks

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