Oh my freakin' goodness. I'm on such a high right now from a week of absolutely brilliant music.
It's been a crazy week. Five concerts in six days (while having to work during the days and get up super early for work) is exhausting. The experience was completely worth the exhaustion, though. I would do this every week if I could; it was one of the best weeks ever. Like I said before, I'm obsessed with The National, so a full week of them was heavenly. They usually don't vary their setlists all that much, but this week they did, and I couldn't have been happier with what they played. Each night I heard at least one new song that I hadn't heard them play live before but was one that I had always wanted to hear. Honestly, I never in a million years could have imagined hearing so many of my favorite songs played live in one single week. It's really unbelievable to me.
Saturday's setlist was seriously amazing. They played so many rarities that I was in constant disbelief and giddiness. It was their last show (out of six in a row) at the Beacon, it was the last show of their High Violet tour (which has been going on for more than a year and a half), and it was streamed live. All those factors meant it would be special, but I didn't realize just how special it would be. There were also some great special guests. Richard Reed Parry of Arcade Fire played with them on a few songs. There were a lot of other great musicians onstage at various points (Annie Clark of St. Vincent, Sharon Von Etten) but my mind is too tired to think of more of them now. I saw Will Arnett, John Krasinski, and Emily Blunt in the audience (they walked right past me).
I recorded all the shows I attended, so a few highlights (for me) are interspersed throughout the rest of this post. Download links for all the shows (full versions) are posted at the end.
I'm trying a new file hosting site, so let me know if these songs actually play. Some of the songs from Saturday are from the live stream, so the quality is better than my audience recording.
"Lucky You" is tied for my favorite song of theirs, and I had never heard it in concert before. I didn't want to let myself hope to hear it this week. They played it on Monday, though (the first night, so I didn't have to keep waiting for it!). I can't tell you how excited I was. I liked hearing them talk about it, too. An audience member kept yelling "Sexy" at Matt, and then Aaron said that the song they were about to play was a sexy song. Matt disagreed and said it was probably one of their least sexy songs, and he suggested that Aaron learn the lyrics. Matt's right. "Lucky You" is not sexy. It's totally creepy; it's basically about a stalker. But the melody is so beautiful that if you don't listen to the lyrics, you might be deceived. Anyway, it's one my absolute favorites. And they played it. And it was even more beautiful than the album version because of the horn section onstage. It was a few minutes of heaven.
On Tuesday "the song" was "Wasp Nest." Oh my freakin' goodness, I love "Wasp Nest." Again, I couldn't believe I was hearing them play it live.
On Thursday I was thrilled to hear "Driver, Surprise Me." That's another gorgeous song. It's one that took a while to grow on me but that really grabbed a hold of me once I listened to it enough times and let it sink in (I love that kind of song).
And now we get to Saturday. Oh, Saturday. I'd like to post at least half the set here because everything was so wonderful. But I'll stick to the rarities.
"SANTA CLARA." Yeah. "Santa Clara." I couldn't believe it. I LOVE this song. It wasn't even released on an album, so it's rare. They don't play it much. By Saturday I had heard so many songs that I was hoping for that I told myself if I heard "Santa Clara" the week would be complete. And when they launched into it, my heart leaped.
"90 Mile Water Wall!" Gahhh! Another rarity that is beautiful but doesn't get played all that often.
I've heard them play "Karen" before, but it's unusual and it's an awesome song. Tonight Matt said they only play it once a year (so I guess I've gotten lucky).
I've also heard "The Geese of Beverly Road" before, but again, it's a wonderful surprise when it gets thrown into the mix. It's one of my favorites.
"About Today" is my favorite closer. It's one of my favorite songs of theirs (tied for first with "Lucky You" and "Apartment Story").
Okay, those were Saturday's highlights. Here are some random highlights from the rest of the week:
They played some new songs which I've heard recordings of but which I was glad to hear in person. "Think You Can Wait" was a highlight. It was featured in the movie Win Win (which you need to see if you haven't already, by the way).
They closed the show every night with an unplugged sing-along version of "Vanderlyle Crybaby Geeks" (with no mics). It's no "About Today" (that will always be my favorite closer), but it's kind of a cool way to end the show. If you want to listen to it, you have to endure my singing (remember no amplification; my mic picked up my own voice because it was closest).
Here are some other songs I loved hearing:
"Slow Show" (always a favorite, no matter how often they play it)
"Start A War" (a great opener for Tuesday's show)
"Available" with the end of "Cardinal Song" (which I LOVE)
"I Need My Girl" (new song). Particularly gorgeous with the violin. This is from Saturday's show, and the audio is from the stream, so it's good quality.
Here are more photos.
Here's my recording of Monday (12/12)'s show.
Here's my recording of Tuesday (12/13)'s show.
Here's my recording of Thursday (12/15)'s show.
Here's my recording of Saturday (12/17)'s show.
I recorded a few videos and will try to share those later.