The National took part in the multi-media art installation “A Lot of Sorrow” at Queens, NY’s PS1 yesterday afternoon. Part of the MoMA outpost’s Sunday Sessions series, the New York indie rock group was commissioned by Icelandic artist Ragnar Kjartansson to run through their song “Sorrow,” from the 2010 album High Violet, repeatedly for six straight hours.
Accompanied by a pair of horn players, the quintet performed in the all-white igloo-shaped VW Dome, which is located in the museum’s courtyard, from 12pm-6pm. They charged through “Sorrow” live in a continuous loop throughout the show. The space’s decorations were minimal—The National played in front of a dry ice display and their own shadows—forcing concertgoers to focus on the song’s dark, sparse structure. At one point, PS1 staffers brought a tray of food and drinks to the stage, which most of the band handed to fans in the front row. Drummer Bryan Devendorf and bassist Scott Devendorf skipped one version of “Sorrow” to have a snack but most versions of the song stayed remarkably pretty true to its recorded format. Twin guitarists Bryce and Aaron Dessner provided the greatest variances between each version of the song, but even those changes were slight tweaks. Fans had the option of doing a 15-minute “walk through” of the performance or waiting in line for a chance to watch the show for longer.
After finishing their performance, the band returned for an encore which, not surprisingly, consisted of yet another version of “Sorrow.” In total, the group performed “Sorrow” 105 times during the day.
The National will film an Artist’s Den show in New York this Tuesday. They will kick off a national tour at Ithaca, NY’s State Theater on May 16.