Friday was a big night at The Capitol Theater in Port Chester, New York. The National made its headlining debut at the historic site, but the city of Port Chester first proclaimed September 23 as Capitol Theater Day to celebrate ten years since the legendary theater reopened under the new owner of Rock Shapiro.
The evening began with a special ceremony during which the Mayor Luis Marino presented Shapiro with a plaque to commemorate what the beloved venue stands for: live music, community and spreading joy around the world through concerts.
The Capitol Theater’s long history dates back to 1926, when it was designed and built by a famous theater architect Thomas W. Lamb. Originally intended for vaudeville and cinema, the theater was renovated for use as a performance hall in the 1970s and later hosted concerts by pink floyd, Janis Joplin, talking heads, Grateful Dead, Parliament-Funkadelicand gigs dwindled in the 1980s.
After serving for a time as a food hall and community events space, the Capitol Theater was renovated and reopened in 2012 by Peter Shapiro, owner of Brooklyn Bowl and former owner of the famous rock club Preserve wetlands. Bob Dylan played when it reopened on September 4, 2012. Since then, the hall has once again become one of the country’s most revered concert halls, hosting performances by Phil Lesh, Bob Weir, BB King, furthur, willie nelson, The Carrion crows, Skrillex, dan of steeland more.
Related: Master Class: Lessons Learned From Peter Shapiro [Interview]
After the ceremony designating September 23 as Capitol Theater Day, The National took the stage for the band’s first performance at the legendary venue. (Aaron Desner and Scott and Bryan Devendorf played in Cape Town in 2016 as part of Bob Weir’s backing band, but Friday marked their first performance there as The National.)
The National opened with the aptly chosen “Don’t Swallow the Cap” and played fan favorites “Buzzblood Ohio”, “Pink Rabbits”, “Graceless” and “Fake Empire”. The group also released a new song, “Moon Drop Light”, which was written just a week ago, reminiscent of when Janis Joplin debuted her song “Mercedes Benz” in the theater (to the surprise of his group) after writing it at a nearby bar in 1970.
Towards the end of the show, Dessner repeatedly teased the Jerry Garcia/Robert Hunter classic “Bird Song,” which the Grateful Dead debuted at the Capitol Theater in 1971.
After a 19-song set, The National offered a five-song encore starting with the band’s recent collaboration with Good Iver, “Strange Goodbyes”. The band capped off the night with a sequence of “Mr. November”, “Terrible Love”, “About Today” and “Vanderlyle Crybaby Geeks”.
View fan-shot videos and a photo gallery of The National at the Capitol Theater, including the Capitol Theater Day dedication, courtesy of the photographer Andrew Scott Blackstein below.
set list: The National | The Capitol Theater | Port Chester, NY | 09/23/22
Together: Don’t swallow the cork, I should live in salt, Bloodbuzz Ohio, the system only dreams in total darkness, I need my daughter, this is the last time, slow show, this doesn’t ‘t help, wasps nest, moon Drop Light (live debut), Conversation 16, Tropic Morning News (Haversham), Day I Die, Rylan (with Indigo Sparke), Light Years, Pink Rabbits, England, Graceless, Fake Empire
Encore: Weird Goodbyes, Mr. November, Terrible Love, About Today, Vanderlyle Crybaby Geeks