Pictures & Words by Nicky Falahat
To say seeing The National play live was life-changing, is an understatement. The American rock band from Cincinnati, Ohio, stole my heart back in 2012. Since the age of 14, The National has had a tremendous impact on my life. There hasn’t been a moment throughout my childhood, adolescence, or early adulthood that one of their songs haven’t been able to help me get through. Matt Berninger’s baritone yet angelic voice, Bryce and Aaron Dessner’s mad guitar and keyboard skills, and Bryan and Scott Devendorf's drumming and bass playing give me life.
Just as their music evolved, so did I; Their albums helped develop my character. Their smooth tunes added depth and dimension to the development of me as an individual. I’ll never forget walking home after having one of my first panic attacks in my 8th grade English class. Not being able to understand the previous state of anxiety I was in yet, I quickly walked home, iPod nano in hand, itching to drown my emotions in any depressing music I could find. I immediately gravitated towards the song “Slow Show” where there was enough drum and chorus presence to make me think I’m orchestrating the whole dahm song in my head. The song may have been created to elicit just one emotion, but my interpretation evoked many. This is a common theme for me when I'm listening to my favorite songs from either the Boxer Album or Sleep Well Beast Album. The National, above all, is about the expression of raw emotion and feelings. Something I cherish dearly.
Moreover, just as Bill Gates had a rebellious phase in his youth, so did I. As dramatic as it sounds, the National’s fourth album, Boxer, had enough melancholy tracks to help me sulk in my turbulent adolescence every time I put it on. I feel as if Berninger’s words give an elaborate meaning to any mundane life. I love everything about this band. I love the presentation of their lyrics: rhythmic and sometimes melodic, simple, yet complex. I eat every word up like its last nights half eaten fettuccini alfredo.
On October 11th, photo pass in one hand and my camera in the other, I patiently waited for my long-awaited dream to become a reality. The lights turned on, and my heart started racing. The reflection of the lights off of Berninger’s glasses, Aaron’s eyes racing back and forth from one end of the crowd to the other, every detail I felt I locked into some deep subconscious part of my brain…stored forever. I remember thinking, this is it. I’ve been waiting for this for so long, and now, I’m less than a couple of feet from artists who I’ve idolized for almost half of my life. The National had a certain type of energy that allowed a level of passion to be present within their performance. Even though I had to take pictures when I was in the pit continuously, you could hear me mumbling every song they played. Being that close to some of the best uses of synth sounds and dynamic riffs of our century, in my opinion, is a memory I will not be able to replace.