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Photo by Jesse Colautti

The National certainly isn’t known as the most energetic band in the world, but the band sure knew how to put on a show as they took the Folk Fest stage.

Between complex lyrics, the growling baritone of lead singer Matt Berninger, and the group’s formal attire, the Brooklyn-based band made an interesting fit as the festival’s headliner on a bitterly cold and wet Friday night. The National managed to warm the spirits of their fans on a night that was, as Berninger optimistically called it, “crisp, not cold.”

Berninger started off a little slow, appearing almost uncomfortable for the first 20 minutes of the set as he spent more time with his back to the crowd and a cup to his lips than singing. Luckily, the energy of the Dessner brothers on guitar was enough to keep the crowd involved until the rest of the band caught up.

There was a moment, as Berninger explained to the crowd why “Slow Show” shouldn’t be used as a wedding song, when the band visibly relaxed. From that point on, the show took off. The band played all the crowd favourites and Berninger spent almost all of the next 30 minutes pouring his heart into the mic, often within arm’s reach of the crowd.

In the spirit of Folk Fest, the band finished with a stripped-down acoustic version of “Vanderlyle Crybaby Geeks” that was near-perfect. Overall, it was a strong performance, if not right away, by a band from whom you’d expect nothing less.


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