The National at Bimbo’s 365 in San Francisco

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The National was at Bimbo’s 365 last night. (Note to Mike: not the Grand National)

They put on a great show! It was sold out. The last time they came through San Francisco they played The Independent. That was a decent show considering that Matt Berninger had a cold and made note of it after every couple songs. He seemed genuinely concerned for the crowd though and it was great of him to apologize so often.


Setting up their tunes on a creative territory amid American electric rock and indie rock’s mellowest tunes, the National ultimately present melodious and inspiring compositions also enlightened by a set of influences, including country-rock and even British pop/rock. Originally coming from Ohio, the band eventually formed in New York in the late ’90s, with a five-piece lineup, embodied by brothers Scott (guitar) and Bryan Devendorf (drums), Aaron (bass) and Bryce Dessner (guitar), and by vocalist Matt Berninger. Following a series of live presentations, the group eventually managed to enter the studio to record their first record. The National, their debut and self-titled album, hit the record stores in 2001, achieving considerable acclaim. The Ohio natural crew then continued to play on several live shows, eventually securing a growing fan base. In 2003 the group released Sad Songs for Dirty Lovers, a deft blending of alternative country and chamber pop, followed by the EP Cherry Tree in 2004. The following year the band signed with Beggars Banquet and released Alligator. The National returned in 2007 with Boxer, an ambitious effort that featured orchestration by the Clogs’ Padma Newsome and Sufjan Stevens on piano.

free mp3 of The National’s ‘Apartment Story’ from their latest album Boxer

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One thought on “The National at Bimbo’s 365 in San Francisco”

  1. i went into this night expecting to see grand national (don’t know what i was thinking. perhaps i wasn’t thinking at all). fortunately the bar [kennedys] across the street had the national on their internet jukebox, so i got to hear a couple of tunes pre-show…enough to know the night wasn’t lost.

    the first 3-4 songs i enjoyed more than the rest of the set i stuck around for. i dug the voice of the lead singer…really rich and deep…and the drummer was a beat MACHINE. i don’t think his head moved more than an inch or 2 during each song, but he was definitely the core of the rhythm section. throw in 2 mad guitarists (were they brothers?), a crazy violin, and a background bassist and it made for a full sound. i didn’t like the backup vocals too much (in one song, one of the brothers screamed into the mic every other measure), but what can ‘ya do. curious to sample some of their recorded work now…but not overly curious.

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