When The National showed up at KCRW’s basement studios, they were sans drummer Bryan Devendorf, who they joked had hurt his back in a “drinking injury”. Our disappointment subsided quickly when we found out this meant they would be doing a special stripped down set for us.

Gathered in a circle, they played an incredible set of songs from “”Trouble Will Find Me“– even with a capo mishap and without the glasses of wine that usually accompany their live shows.

In fact, Matt Berninger admitted to host Chris Douridas that he uses wine, “both flavors”, as a crutch to “let go of reality a tiny bit.”

The band talked about the making of their latest record and how it was the easiest yet for a few reasons. The band members had decided  to unplug and focus on family, so when the songs just started flowing, it was without the pressure of having to deliver a record. Also, Matt is now here on the  West Coast and the physical distance actually helped their working relationship.

Matt now lives in Venice and it was “Pink Rabbits”, a song that mentions LA, that was my favorite from the session — it literally gave me chills.

(Note: MBE Associate Producer Collin Walzak later found out that “Pink Rabbits” is the name for a drink Matt made up. The recipe, dare you try it, is Tequila, Nestle Quick Strawberry Milk and Kahlua.)

The band played two sold out shows here over the weekend and this live set was simply stunning.

Watch it all here and check out another highlight below.

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