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Photos of The National by Zach Slootsky.
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If there's one band that excels at turning performances at sizable venues into something more intimate, it's The National.
While Yonge-Dundas square might have felt small for the Brooklyn indie rock five-piece in comparison to the almost 19,000 people they played to at Brooklyn's Barclays Center last week, it certainly didn't feel that way for anybody trying to gain a decent vantage point.
A bike valet would have been handy as I arrived slightly late and struggled to find a place to chain mine up amongst a sea of fixies and road bikes. I ended up opting to hold it, which meant I couldn't see the band, but could clearly hear lead singer Matt Berninger's distinct baritone. They played material from their latest, Trouble Will Find Me, and fan favourites Fake Empire and Mr. November, with horns adding extra punch to several songs and Berninger bantering like he was at a family BBQ.
From there, I hustledthrough the busy streets (avoiding the pedestrian nightmare that is the Taste of Little Italy festival) to Wrongbar, where I caught a brief, but highly energetic set of synth pop from Brooklyn-based act St. Lucia.
Needing a tune-up for both my bike and myself, I ended up missing Federation of Disco Pimp at the Gladstone, but rallied for Sneaky Dee's 2 am secret guest, Montreal's Majical Cloudz, who ended the night on a high note with an emotionally charged performance.
Unforgettable: The National ending their set with an acoustic version of Vanderlyle Crybaby Geeks, Berninger urging the crowd to sing the chorus and them willingly obliging.