The National treat rock music as a salve. For over twodecades, they’ve crafted songs that set out to navigate ahurting world, creating a space where dispirited souls canunite and raise a toast to another day. In that time, they’vegrown a lot as artists and songwriters, evolving from anunderdog indie outfit into one of the most adventurous andinfluential bands of our time, with an impact that’sreverberated through the worlds of alternative rock, avant-garde classical composition, and even top 40 pop (not tomention the campaign of at least one former president).
Remarkably, The National survived the roller-coaster ride fromdive bars to festival-headliner slots with their original lineupintact. They’re a band of brothers in the figurative and literalsense, with enigmatic yet charismatic lead singer, MattBerninger flanked by: Aaron and Bryce Dessner, the giftedmulti-instrumentalists who provide dreamy texture andcinematic sweep; and Scott and Bryan Devendorf, thetelepathic rhythm section that drives the songs to theirdramatic peaks. Though they all hail from Cincinnati, TheNational officially came together in Brooklyn in 1999, just asthe borough was becoming the new epicenter forunderground rock. Compared to the then-fashionable, post-punk sounds peddled by their peers, the artful Americana ofThe National’s first two albums—2001’s self-titled debut and2003’s Sad Songs for Dirty Lovers—positioned them asoutsiders to a scene of outsiders.