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The National private show at Untitled

April 17, 2014|By Mick Swasko, @swasko | RedEye

The band is hardly known for getting a crowd to get up and move, let alone sway to a steady beat. Still, opener “Don’t Swallow the Cap” got heads nodding immediately. And up close, those not swept up in the evening's cocktails (traded for drink tickets distributed upon arrival) were closely watching a band that, fortunately, wasn’t treating the tiny crowd as a throwaway, promotional obligation. Berninger, who uttered but a dozen words to the crowd outside of his lyrics, even seemed to enjoy himself while sipping on an unspecified cocktail between songs.

Continuing with the soul-dampening "I Should Live in Salt" and family-style standout "I Need My Girl," The National didn't skimp--trombone and trumpet were on hand throughout the evening, which contained about six songs, give or take. While it was clear the band was saving lung capacity for the main attraction at the Chicago Theatre, the Untitled performance proved to a small audience that The National has hardly stopped trying. Nor has Dessner’s daughter, who once again took center stage during closer “Fake Empire” as she attempted to pluck the guitar strings her dad held down from the elevated stage. Another charming moment that nicely offset the songs' hushed woe.

The National will be playing two more sold out shows in Chicago at the Chicago Theatre this week. 

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