Brooklyn-based indie band The National officially debuted a number of songs from its forthcoming album, High Violet , last night. The gig took place at Brooklyn, NY’s intimate Bell House, a venue located a few blocks from guitarist Aaron Dessner’s come studio (where High Violet was recorded). In the group’s recent interview with Relix, lead singer Matt Berninger suggested that the band’s new songs would touch upon the group’s latent classic rock influences—a suggestion supported by the extended solo taken by guest guitarist Justin Vernon (Bon Iver) at last year’s Dark Was the Night benefit. But though many of the group’s new songs featured pronounced guitars and more upbeat tempos, the songs fit squarely into the band’s art-rock canon. The five-piece band did utilize a number of support players, however, including a small horns section, multi-instrumentalist Padma Newsome and keyboadist Thomas Bartlett (Doveman).
The band opened with the new, brooding original “Bloodbuzz Ohio” and featured most of the songs off High Violet: “Sorrow,” “Anyone’s Ghost,” “Little Faith,” “Afraid of Everyone,” “Lemonworld,” “Runaway,” “Conversation 16,” “England,” “Vanderlyle Crybaby” and “Terrible Love”—the latter of which the band debuted a night earlier on Late Night with Jimmy Fallon . Along the way, the group sprinkled a selection of songs from 2005’s Alligator and 2007’s Boxer, including “Start a War,” “Secret Meeting,” “Slow Show,” “Apartment Story,” “Abel,” “Fake Empire” and “Mr. November.” Berninger alternated between being loose and funny (laughing off his occasional flubs and rust) and dark and menacing (screaming into his microphone and moving into the crowd near the end of his show).
In addition, Berninger sat in with the evening’s opening act Ethan Lipton. The National singer appeared on “When You Die,” a song he recorded for Lipton’s forthcoming release Honker. Lipton will preview material from the album at New York’s Joe’s Pub on April 10.
High Violet includes the following songs:
1. Terrible Love
3. Anyone’s Ghost
4. Little Faith
5. Afraid of Everyone
6. Bloodbuzz Ohio
9. Conversation 16
11. Vanderlyle Crybaby Geeks