Show Recap: The National - Local Wolves


The National — Mission Ballroom in Denver, CO — August 11, 2023

With their first full length album released in 2001 and the most recent– First Two Pages of Frankenstein– released in 2023, The National have been at it for so long for a simple reason: it’s what they’re meant to do. Instrumentalists, producers, and writers for their own band and countless side projects, they’re a group whose stage presence is rooted in decades of practice, particularly frontman Matt Berninger. His performance is dialed and controlled as he wanders the stage and even into the crowd, flanked on either side by twin brothers Aaron and Bryce Dessner and supported in the rhythm section by brothers Scott and Bryan Devendorf. Berninger is playful with his bandmates on stage, joking with Bryce about funky time signatures and briefly taking over the drums. The crowd trends older, with devout listeners who have been fans from the very beginning. A younger demographic has had many opportunities to be introduced to The National through prominent collaborations: both Dessners producing and writing on Folklore and Evermore with Taylor Swift, as well as Berninger being featured on a track. Phoebe Bridgers is featured on two tracks from Frankenstein, and had previously collaborated with Berninger for his solo track “Walking on a String.” This era feels almost like a rebirth for a band that has already seen a multitude of iterations in sound, an exciting time for new and old fans alike. One thing is clear after seeing them take the stage at Mission Ballroom in Denver: nobody is having more fun at a show for The National than The National. 

Words & Photography: Lee Dubin

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