By: Erica Fasoli
The Ogden Twilight Concert Series on Thursday night brought Alvvays and The National to the Ogden Amphitheater. The sold-out show was packed from the beginning, with a full crowd by the time Alvvays (pronounced always) took the stage. As they kicked off the night, the crowd rose to their feet and remained that way for the entirety of the evening. I had never heard of Alvvays, a Toronto based indie-pop band. As they began to play, I was immediately impressed with Molly Rankin’s voice. There was a sweetness to it, yet it was strong and powerful as she sang out to the crowd. Keyboardist, Kerri MacLellan’s voice complimented Molly’s nicely and the two of them commanded the front of the stage. Their 45-minute set had fans singing along with a relaxed yet exciting presence to the crowd. As they wrapped up their set, anticipation filled the air for the National.
I’ve heard a lot of contrasting opinions about the National over the years. Their consistent, but sometimes too consistent sound. Contrasting opinions of their shows, from a commanding and impressive stage presence to entirely boring performances. I’ve personally always been a fan of the National’s music. There have been times in my life where I’ve reveled in their dark, moody lyrics. As I looked around the amphitheater, I could tell that I was surrounded by people who felt similarly to me – fans of their weirdly relatable yet difficult to interpret music. I had a feeling from the start that I would only have good things to say about the night and I was right… the National did not disappoint.
As I sat at the front of the stage ready for the National, there was an excitement in the front row that I don’t often see. Fans ranging from around 12 to 50 years old were pressed against the barricade, anxiously watching the tour visuals on large screens that stretched across the back of the stage. A live camera feed in the hallway backstage showed the band walking towards us. The crowd roared as Matt Berninger, the frontman and lead singer, rounded the corner and walked on stage. Following Matt was not only the four other members of the National but a total of 9 other people to round out the band. Matt walked to the edge of the stage, reaching out towards the audience as the crowd went crazy. They started the night with “You had Your Soul with You” and “Quiet Light” off of their new album I am Easy to Find.
On I am Easy to Find, released in May of 2019, Matt Berninger’s voice is accompanied by a powerful and soulful set of female voices that shine throughout the album, not just as backing vocals, but as focal points. Kate Stables, of This is the Kit, is one of these voices, and one of the two women on stage. Matt and Kate’s voices layered together beautifully as they played “Guilty Party” and “Oblivions”.
Matt Berninger brought a certain angsty, trying feel to the stage. The emotion that he conveyed through his movements and body language was captivating. His arms wrapped around his body as he sang “I Need my Girl” and “Day I Die”. It was as if he was in a space all his own, closed off to the world, protecting himself from the dark lyrics that he sang. There was a wildness to his movements, a sense of unease and strain. To me it was brilliant. I could feel the connection and emotion he was portraying as I watched him move on stage. During one song he could turn his emotion inward, closing his eyes and fading into the darkness, whereas the next he was jumping into the audience, putting on someone’s backpack, and creating an eruption of cheers and laughs. He was a magnetic performer.
As the night went on, a storm rolled towards us. Lightning lit the sky behind the amphitheater as lyrics “towers to the skies, an academy of lies […] I am easy to find“ echoed across the crowd. The melancholy nature of the National’s music, in combination with bursts of lightning in the distance made for something really special. A unique balance between calm and moody. The thunder in the sky complimented the tone of the music and every time the sky lit up the audience roared. It was almost like the storm was meant to be a part of the performance. I was hypnotized by the gloomy combination, entirely caught up in the emotion and connection I felt to the moment. The National wrapped the night up with a four-song encore, including “Not in Kansas” and “Terrible Love”. As I drove home through the rain, I played I am Easy to Find through my car speakers, not entirely ready for the night end.
You Had Your Soul With You
The Pull of You
Don’t Swallow the Cap
So Far So Fast
Where Is Her Head
Dark Side of the Gym
Day I Die
The System Only Dreams in Total Darkness
I Am Easy to Find
Not in Kansas
Vanderlyle Crybaby Geeks