The National Performs With Patti Smith At Homecoming Festival & Releases Surprise Album

Watch Smith join the band on “I Need My Girl” and stream the new record, Laugh Track.

By Andy Kahn Sep 18, 2023 12:14 pm PDT

The National staged their Homecoming Festival in Cincinnati last weekend and were joined by Patti Smith. The National followed the hometown fest by releasing a surprise new studio album, Laugh Track.

The National’s hometown event at the ICON Festival Stage at Smale Park featured headlining appearances by the host band on Friday (September 15) and Saturday (September 16). Friday’s set began with a performance of The National’s 2010 album, High Violet. After performing the 11 tracks that makeup High Violet in order, The National turned to the rest of their catalog for the remainder of the set.

First up was “I Need My Girl” off the band’s 2013 album, Trouble Will Find Me. Patti Smith found her way to the front of the stage to help frontman Matt Berninger sing “I Need My Girl.”

Later in the set, The National played “Available” off 2003’s Sad Songs for Dirty Lovers for the first time since 2014. The band also debuted “Dreaming,” one of the 12 songs that appear on Laugh Track.

Watch the collaboration with Smith below:

The National (See 41 videos) and Patti Smith (See 13 videos)

Laugh Track began during the same sessions as First Two Pages of Frankenstein, The National’s latest album that came out in April on 4AD. According to press materials:

The National honed most of this material in live performances on tour this year, and captured those invigorated versions in impromptu sessions at producer Tucker Martine’s Portland studio, Flora Recording & Playback. The nearly eight-minute album closer “Smoke Detector” was recorded in June during a Vancouver soundcheck, completing a body of work bristling with spontaneity and vintage rock energy that makes a perfect complement to the songs found on its more introspective predecessor.

Guests on Laugh Track include Phoebe Bridgers (who also appeared on First Two Pages of Frankenstein) and Rosanne Cash. The new album’s tracklist also includes the previously released single, “Weird Goodbyes,” featuring Bon Iver.

“It felt like the story had already been told,” guitarist Aaron Dessner stated. “It was its own thing. But it also felt related to what we were doing. That was part of the logic for making another record — let’s give ‘Weird Goodbyes’ its own home.”

The National also confirmed new tour dates in the United States this fall. The band will also head to Australia for a run of shows in early 2024 with support from Fleet Foxes. Stream Laugh Track:

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