Few bands have grown into their fame as patiently and with as much grace as The National. Each album represents careful strides towards something different, never changing so much to put off old fans and seemingly continuously expanding their reach. That made their New York festival, There’s No Leaving New York, over the weekend as much a celebration of their career as it was anything else.
The band performed a pair of almost entirely unique sets; the only repeated songs were the crowd singalong rendition of “Vanderlyle Crybaby Geeks” and “About Today”, though even the latter changed when they dedicated it to Frightened Rabbit’s Scott Hutchison. That performance caused the crowd at Queen’s Forest Hills Stadium to be pin-drop quiet, a powerful feat for such a large venue (even if it wasn’t nearly full). Matt Berninger was in rare form, playing with photographers, quipping, and running into the crowd whenever he felt so empowered. Add the two nights together, and you have all the evidence you’ll ever need to confirm The National deserve their status as one of indie’s greatest bands.
It didn’t hurt that they brought all their friends along to take the stage before them. The always stunning Phoebe Bridgers delivered a beautiful set of her own before performing “I Need My Girl” and “Sorrow” with the headliners, Jason Isbell and the 400 Unit showed how country rock can rip as hard as anything, and U.S. Girls brought some funky vibes to their afternoon set. No one was shocked to see Future Islands put on an impassioned show, but their statements of unity and love were as impactful as Samuel T. Herring’s dance moves (“The good old days are ahead of us, not fucking behind us”).
Consequence of Sound photographers Amanda Koellner and News Editor Ben Kaye were on site Saturday and Sunday (respectively) to capture all the best moments, including performances from Cat Power and Cigarettes After Sex. Check out their gallery below.