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Arts & Culture

First Listen Live: The National, 'Sleep Well Beast'

The National
The National

ADVISORY:This concert contains profanity.

The National played the group's entire new album, Sleep Well Beastlive in Philadelphia on Sept. 5, days before its release, and we have the entire show for you here.

The capacity crowd of about 1,200 at Union Transfer witnessed an extraordinary performance by this band of impeccable performers, including a good deal of guitar dueling by twins Aaron and Bryce Dessner.

The concert began with a sharply dressed Matt Berninger comically mixing up his own lyrics as he sang, "You said we're not so tied together, what did you mean? Meet me in the bathroom in a second, for a glass of gin," instead of "meet me in the stairwell." Itwas a funny flub that referenced the title of of Lizzy Goodman's recently published book, Meet Me In The Bathroom about the New York music scene from 2001-2011. But it foreshadowed Matt's frenetic performance throughout the night as he cast off that sport coat, rolled up his sleeves and led the band in a fun and inspired performance of these new songs. The show ended with Matt pitching his plastic cup full of clear liquid into the crowd in a frenzy of strobe light mania.

The group was joined throughout the night by Arone Dyer of Buke and Gase (who also sings on the new record), along with Ben Lanz on trombone and keyboard, Kyle Resnick on trumpet, keys and backing vocals and brothers Scott and Bryan Devendorf on bass and drums.

World Cafe host Talia Schlanger and I recently talked with Matt Berninger about how he and the band created their new album. Listen to that full interview here.

Sleep Well Beastis out Sept. 8 on 4AD Records.


  • "Nobody Else Will Be There"
  • "Day I Die"
  • "Walk It Back"
  • "The System Only Dreams in Total Darkness"
  • "Born to Beg"
  • "Turtleneck"
  • "Empire Line"
  • "I'll Still Destroy You"
  • "Guilty Party"
  • "Carin at the Liquor Store"
  • "Dark Side of the Gym"
  • "Sleep Well Beast"
  • Encore

  • "Green Gloves"
  • "Apartment Story"
  • "Fake Empire"
  • "Terrible Love"
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