Out in support of their gorgeous, nuanced, and melancholy 2017 album Sleep Well Beast, Brooklyn indie/post-punk icons The National, easily one of the most universally lauded rock acts of the last decade, are set to make their long-overdue return to Nashville tonight, May 3 for a performance at Ascend Amphitheater. Making this show all the more essential, buzzy up and coming indie rockers Big Thief, whose 2017 sophomore effort Capacity is nothing short of a masterpiece, are set to support, and tickets are still available here, with some fairly modest prices for lawn seats, and a few more premium seated and pit spots available as well as of writing. Sure to be one of the best shows of the spring, the weather is perfect for an outdoor show this evening, and these are two artists unrivaled at what they do. Read more about them below!
Formed nearly 20 years ago in Brooklyn, by veterans of the Cincinnati, Ohio rock scene (the members had all already relocated, but knew one another from prior projects), The National have, over the last decade, become one of the most beloved and well regarded acts in modern indie rock. After a few years of DIY beginnings led to a respectable early cult following, the group attracted broader attention with 2005 third album and label debut Alligator, achieving a level of universal critical acclaim that has persisted with each subsequent release. 2007’s Boxer, a masterpiece of a followup, and 2010’s High Violet, perhaps their most beloved record of all, proved even more monumental in bringing The National to a broader audience, attracting placements, television appearances, prominent festival spots, big tours and supporting dates, collaborations, and countless appearances on best of lists. Heralded for their melancholic, subdued lyrical style and post-punk rooted indie sounds, the band have spent the bulk of their career perfecting what they do with added nuance, emotional resonance, and widespread appeal. An unlikely success in that they started the group later in life, took a decade to really break, and have only seemed to get better and more popular since. 2013’s gorgeous and devastating Trouble Will Find Me and last year’s dark and moody and expansive Sleep Well Beast, which they’re currently on the road supporting, rival the group’s prior three near perfect LPs, cementing their catalogue as among the best in indie rock history. They’re a phenomenal live force as well, really bringing to the front the layered, emotional weight of their songs, and while the smaller the space you can see them the better, Ascend is the perfect balance between large enough to fit a lot of fans, but not too big as to feel impersonal- you won’t want to miss this show.
Helmed by skilled frontwoman Adrianne Lenker, the genesis of Brooklyn’s Big Thief began when Lenker met and began collaborating with guitarist Buck Meek, initially as a duo, as they released a pair of early records, and toured the country forging their sound and musical bond. After further flexing her range with a solo album, Lenker, along with Meek, recruited drummer James Krivchenia and bassist Max Oleartchik to round out a full band, which led to debut LP Masterpiece, released in 2016 through Saddle Creek. With a deeply personal thematic style, and a fuzzy, folky, and warm rock sound, Big Thief managed to quickly build buzz thanks to their engaging, seasoned live show and especially strong debut, which they swiftly followed up with an even better, more honed, and critically lauded sophomore effort, Capacity, last year. One of our favorite records of 2017 (and we’re hardly in the minority in that opinion), Big Thief’s latest LP has further revved up their ascent, making them a must-know band and landing countless tour and festival dates, including this impressive run with The National. We’d be excited for this show if it was Big Thief alone, and needless to say, you’ll want to be punctual.
The National and Big Thief will perform tonight, May 3 at Ascend Amphitheater. The show is all ages, begins at 8 p.m. (doors at 7 p.m.), and tickets are available for $30.50-70.50.