Last night most of Toronto flooded Yonge-Dundas square for The National’s free headlining set at NXNE. Not as many people as Iggy Pop or Flaming Lips, but a dense crowd of astute fans, enough to stop traffic going south on Yonge street, watching intently and politely while Matt Berninger and band serenaded them with what he described as “quiet songs.”
Taking the stage nearly half an hour early, they played through this years stellar new release Trouble Will Find Me, including “Pink Rabbits, ” “Graceless,” and “I Need My Girl” which they debuted late last year on CBC’s Radio Q with Jian Ghomeshi (who was of course watching from backstage last night). They also played the usual favourites ”Vanderlyle Crybaby Geeks,” “Afraid of Everyone,” and ” Buzzblood Ohio” from High Violet, ”Squalor Victoria” and “Apartment Story” from The Boxer, and “Abel” from Alligator.
But like most bands touring a fresh new album (dropped back in May), they played their new tunes most passionately, with heavy sweeps of smoke coming from side stage, bring back memories of when we saw them as the sun set at Coachella in 2011. Both Matt Berninger and Aaron Dessner got down into the crowd when particularly wound up; Dressner actually made the effort to hop the fence and get into public area for a bit and Berninger destroyed a mic stand as usual.
We could not think of a more perfect way to spend a Friday night and we gotta give mad props to NXNE for booking one of the best headliners in years for the festival, serious indie cred is in order here.
Take a look at our photos below.