The National, on tour with Soccer Mommy and The Beths, perform their first of four nights here in Chicago on May 18th at the Auditorium Theatre. I gleefully took my seat directly in the middle, not too far not too close, just perfect. Soccer Mommy took the stage first and the audience was really receptive and wonderfully responsive. It was amazing to see a really well received opening act. Sophie, vocalist, took some time to introduce her band and the audience loved it. They played their hit “Your Dog” second to last during their set, closing it out with “Don’t Ask Me” coming from her 2022 release Sometimes, Forever. It was incredible to see such a wonderful performance from Soccer Mommy and to be able open for The National must simply feel incredible.
The National recently released their ninth studio album titled First Two Pages of Frankenstein on April 28th of this year. From the album’s track list we see The National feature Sufjan Stevens, Phoebe Bridgers, and Taylor Swift. A very melancholic theme seems to be a baseline for The National. On this album we see a return of the slow progressive style that was prominent in their 2019 release I Am Easy To Find. However on tracks like “Tropic Morning News” you get a new side of The National that contrasts previous releases which I thoroughly enjoy.
The anticipation was killing me to see Matt Berninger and his band take the stage. It was an overwhelming, yet wonderful, anxiety just to get them on stage. Once the lights went out and the visuals began to slowly transition everyone in the audience stood up. It was mystifying to see such a grip on this audience. Someone behind me asked “Is Taylor Swift in the building?” as the band approached the stage. They began with the opening track “Once Upon A Poolside” to warm up the audience.
As the night continued I felt as though Berninger’s mic could have been louder. It would have provided a clear harmony between the live music and his vocals. At points it seemed as though the music was louder, which caused the vocals to get lost during some of their songs. However, it was still thoroughly enjoyable to see Berninger in the flesh performing in front of me. One of my favorite tracks “The System Only Dreams in Total Darkness” was wonderful to see performed live. I also enjoyed the synchronization of the lights during that track. They also played “Murder Me Rachel” for the first time since 2014 which was a nice surprise.
It was an incredible night to get to see The National. The incredible contrast between new and old songs to close out the night was glorious. The encore definitely did not disappoint. I suggest you catch The National at least once on this tour as they have two more nights here in Chicago and many more dates all across the US. Let’s just say it would definitely hurt to miss.