The National seems an unlikely band to land four albums in a row on the Billboard top five, given that their brooding indie rock examines the existential dread of the showered and blue-blazered. But part of the reason they've been able to become a world-conquering act is their tremendous live shows.

(Laurel Kadas)
(Laurel Kadas)

Onstage, the tension-building restraint of the National's albums is allowed to explode, making for shows that are introspective and personal, but also uniquely communal. On their current tour, behind the recently released I Am Easy to Find, the band incorporates the albums' duets with women vocalists with the help of touring members Hannah Georges and Kate Stables to beautiful effect.

During the National's sold-out show at McMenamins Edgefield on Aug. 30, frontman Matt Berninger was in full dad-rock Dionysus mode. He took two trips from the stage and into the audience, all the way past the soundboard. The second of Berninger's trips was during a career-spanning, five-song encore that began with an especially poignant "Not in Kansas"—which references punching Nazis—and ending with an a capella, acoustic and goose bump-inducing version of "Vanderlyle Crybaby Geeks."

As Berninger reached with outstretched hands to the crowd singing back to him—like participants in a group music therapy session—it felt like a genuine moment of mass connection amid times most terrible. For the evening, that seemed like enough.

(Laurel Kadas)
(Laurel Kadas)
(Laurel Kadas)
(Laurel Kadas)
(Laurel Kadas)
(Laurel Kadas)
(Laurel Kadas)
(Laurel Kadas)
(Laurel Kadas)
(Laurel Kadas)
(Laurel Kadas)
(Laurel Kadas)
(Laurel Kadas)
(Laurel Kadas)