Friday was a big night at The Capitol Theatre in Port Chester, NY. The National made its headlining debut at the historic venue, but first the city of Port Chester proclaimed September 23rd as The Capitol Theatre Day in celebration of ten years since the legendary theater reopened under the new ownership of Peter Shapiro.

The night kicked off with a special ceremony in which Mayor Luis Marino presented Shapiro with a plaque to commemorate what the beloved venue stands for: live music, community, and spreading joy into the world through concerts.

The Capitol Theatre’s long history stretches back to 1926 when it was designed and built by noted theater architect Thomas W. Lamb. Originally intended for vaudeville and cinema, the theater was renovated for use as a performance space in the 1970s and subsequently hosted concerts by Pink Floyd, Janis Joplin, Talking Heads, Grateful Dead, Parliament-Funkadelic, and concerts tapered off in the 1980s.

After serving for a while as a catering hall and community event space, The Capitol Theatre was renovated and reopened in 2012 by Peter Shapiro, owner of Brooklyn Bowl and former owner of the famed rock club Wetlands Preserve. Bob Dylan played at the reopening on September 4th, 2012. Since then, the venue has once again become one of the most venerated concert venues in the country, hosting shows by Phil Lesh, Bob WeirB.B. King, Furthur, Willie Nelson, The Black Crowes, Skrillex, Steely Dan, and more.

Related: Master Class: Lessons Learned From Peter Shapiro [Interview] 

Following the ceremony designating September 23rd as The Capitol Theatre Day, The National took the stage for the band’s debut performance at the legendary venue. (Aaron Dessner and Scott and Bryan Devendorf played at The Cap in 2016 as part of Bob Weir’s backing band, but Friday marked their first time performing 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 band also debuted a new song, “Moon Drop Light”, which was written just a week prior, calling to mind the time Janis Joplin debuted her song “Mercedes Benz” at the theater (to the surprise of her band) after writing it at a nearby bar in 1970.

Toward the end of the show, Dessner repeatedly teased the Jerry Garcia/Robert Hunter classic “Bird Song”, which the Grateful Dead debuted at The Capitol Theatre in 1971.

After a 19-song set, The National offered a five-song encore starting with the band’s recent collaboration with Bon Iver, “Weird Goodbyes”. The band capped the night off with a sequence of “Mr. November”, “Terrible Love”, “About Today”, and “Vanderlyle Crybaby Geeks”.

View fan-shot videos and a gallery of photos from The National at The Capitol Theatre, including The Capitol Theatre Day dedication, courtesy of photographer Andrew Scott Blackstein below.

The National – “Moon Drop Light” – 9/23/22

[Video: Dan Moran]

The National – “Fake Empire” – 9/23/22

[Video: Chad Sclove]

The National – “Mr. November” – 9/23/22

[Video: boniche]

The National – “Terrible Love” – 9/23/22

[Video: Chad Sclove]

The National – “Vanderlyle Crybaby Geeks” – 9/23/22

[Video: Chad Sclove]

View Videos

Setlist: The National | The Capitol Theatre | Port Chester, NY | 9/23/22

Set: Don’t Swallow the Cap, I Should Live in Salt, Bloodbuzz Ohio, The System Only Dreams in Total Darkness, I Need My Girl, This Is the Last Time, Slow Show, This Isn’t Helping, Wasp 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