"Wasp Nest," "Humiliation" Highlight Extraordinary 2nd Night In Chicago By The National

My 7th National show was the best National show I've seen
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It's night two of The National's four-night residency at the gorgeous Chicago Theater. My seats tonight aren't as good as Night 1 but it seems there's not a bad seat in the house. I was on the Aaron Dessner side of the stage for last night. I'm on Bryce's side this evening. A different vantage point and some different songs.

National show #7 was Lucky #7 for me as tonight is the best of their shows I've attended and rates among the best concerts of my career.

"Start A War" was an inspired opener and "Mistaken For Strangers" was great in the cleanup spot. I'm a little surprised that one hasn't been played more with the film of the same name having just been released on Bluray. I've heard both songs before but it had been awhile and neither were in the set last night.

"Afraid Of Everyone" was capped by an excellent guitar solo by Bryce and the dual bass of Scott Devendorf. Scott and Aaron later traded guitar and bass on "All The Wine," but I'm getting ahead of myself.

Yes, they played "Squalor Victoria" and "Abel" which means The National are not (yet) reading my reviews but that doesn't matter tonight because there was a moment that made this entire voyage worth it. This was money well spent and any hassle or inconvenience will be weighted against this: they played "Wasp Nest." It was delicate, mournful, beautiful, and frankly perfect. This song means so much to me, evoking so many emotions and memories. It was devastating, haunting, and moving; I can't believe they played it.

"Wasp Nest" was followed by a segment I'm calling, "This portion of the show is brought to you by the letter 'A'": "All The Wine," "Abel," and "Apartment Song." Makes me wish they'd held "Afraid Of Everyone" for a few more songs and "Ada" from last night. "Ada" would have been especially appropriate on a night that shined a light on their masterful Boxer album.

Another Boxer cut, "Green Gloves," was also part of tonight's set. I've always loved this one for the circular guitar lines the Dessners weave. Frontman Matt Berninger segued from it to "Pink Rabbits" with the quip, "This one's even more hilarious."

"Humiliation" would have been the moment of the night on any other night and it couldn't be any more different in tone than "Wasp Nest" but both songs were utterly fantastic. "Humiliation" was beyond intense musically from the band and vocally from Berninger. The songs of Trouble Will Find Me all work onstage but "Humiliation" may translate better than any of them with the arrangement that band is using. I assure you it's (mostly) a coincidence tonight's highlights were songs I heard for the first time.

Tonight is why I did what I did -- buying tickets to five shows in eight days -- and I still have two nights left. My feet still haven't touched the ground and maybe they won't until I land in Nashville. The National are playing checkers while most everyone else is playing chess. Brilliant.

The National
Chicago Theater | Chicago, IL
April 16, 2014 

  1. Start A War
  2. Sea Of Love
  3. I Should Live In Salt
  4. Mistaken For Strangers
  5. Bloodbuzz Ohio
  6. Don't Swallow The Cap
  7. Heavenfaced
  8. Afraid Of Everyone
  9. Squalor Victoria
  10. I Need My Girl
  11. This Is The Last Time
  12. Wasp Nest
  13. All The Wine
  14. Abel
  15. Apartment Story
  16. Green Gloves
  17. Pink Rabbits
  18. England
  19. Graceless
  20. Fake Empire

  21. Humiliation
  22. Mr. November
  23. Terrible Love
  24. Vanderlyle Crybaby Geeks