My wife and I saw The National play at a tiny 450-person club in Aspen yesterday. The National is one of a small number of bands I’ve come across over the course of my life that I truly love. We saw them play at Red Rocks in September, which was great, but that’s a 9,500 person ampitheater. Seeing them in a club this small was extraordinary.
The club is arranged with a small floor directly in front of the stage, and there are concentric rings of bars and tables radiating out. When you walk in you can actually sit down at one of these tables or bars, and they have servers available to bring food and drinks while you’re watching the show. The sound is great and they don’t oversell tickets, so the bar never felt crowded. Viewed purely from the perspective of the quality of the venue, this was the best concert I’ve ever been to. And of course The National put on an amazing show.
I brought my DSLR to the show and took some pictures. I used my 85mm prime lens, and it was the perfect focal length given the size of the venue (tell me the last time you were at a show where an 85mm lens provided the perfect amount of zoom to get tightly cropped photos from absolutely anywhere inside). It also performed extraordinarily well given the available light, and I came away with some amazing pictures. I’ve included a couple in this post, and you can see the whole set on Flickr.