CINCINNATI (WXIX) – The moody alternative band, The National played their second Homecoming Festival at Smale Park in Downtown Cincinnati for a celebratory weekend full of laughs, reflection and tears.
On Friday, the five Cincinnati musicians (and company) performed their hit album High Violet, a rather dark twist to the complexities of being human.
The record came out in 2010, and the band was supposed to celebrate its 10-year anniversary in 2020 by performing in Cincinnati, however, that all changed when the COVID-19 Pandemic hit.
“At Homecoming 2020 we’d planned to celebrate the 10-year anniversary of High Violet by performing it from beginning to end,” The National wrote. “Unfortunately, the pandemic prevented that from being realized. This year, Trouble Will Find Me reached the same 10-year milestone. To celebrate, at Homecoming 2023 we will perform both.”
To make up for lost time, the band decided to commemorate that milestone this year, in addition to the 10-year anniversary of their album Trouble Will Find Me, which they performed on Saturday.
People from all over came to the two-day celebration, such as long-time fan, Andrew Aviles who lives in Chicago.
“They’re a band I grew up listening to,” Aviles said, later explaining his need to burn their songs onto CDs when he was younger.
This weekend was the Chicagoan’s third time seeing The National this year, and the seventh time in his life.
“They’re a complex band because their lyrics are unlike any other – you can kind of pull different meanings from the lyrics,” he explained. “It’s very real music.”
While many fans traveled to Cincinnati for the concert, some happened to already be in the city, like Cincinnati native Peter Kobek, who says it has been interesting rediscovering The National in his adulthood.
“The name of the festival is Homecoming – The National for me is sort of like a homecoming,” Kobek said. “I just moved back to Cincinnati a year ago, and it kind of feels like a connection. Some parts are moody, like The National, but also strong. I feel like that’s my connection between myself and Cincinnati.”
On Friday, the band opened up with its euphoric soundtrack, Terrible Love, and ended up playing a total of 29 songs. They even invited Patti Smith on stage to sing one of their more popular soundtracks, I Need My Girl.
“I can’t believe I sang with Patti Smith,” lead singer Matt Berninger said after hugging the alternative rock icon.
As The National ran through the list of songs on the record, one that may have brought tears to fans’ eyes was Vanderlyle Crybaby Geeks, a mundane story about a man who is on his own facing chaos.
“Leave your home, change your name. Live alone, eat your cake,” the crowd sang in acoustic monologues.
Saturday’s atmosphere was filled with an electric melodrama. Children were making friendship bracelets and handing them out to strangers, several folks were asleep on the lawn trying to catch up from the night before, and others were pressed against the front gate patiently waiting for their favorite band to come on.
The Cincinnati group opened up with three hard-hitting songs: I Should Live In Salt, Demons, and Don’t Swallow The Cap.
Several new releases were also played during the 30-track performance, such as Weird Goodbyes, Tropic Morning News, and Space Invader.
Twelve musicians were invited to open for The National during the Homecoming Festival this weekend.
|Friday Openers||Saturday Openers|
|Allen Lanz||Leo Pastel|
|Bartees Strange||Julia Jacklin|
|Arooj Aftab||Snail Mail|
|The Walkmen||Weyes Blood|
|Patti Smith & Her Band||Pavement|
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