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The National, Lucy Dacus

  • Orpheum 216 State Street Madison, WI, 53703 United States (map)

The National's stacked, stately songbook should pair well here with an opening set from Lucy Dacus' sharply written tunes. Info/tix

  Photo by Graham MacIndoe.

Photo by Graham MacIndoe.

With stately pop structures and lead singer Matt Berninger's charismatic baritone, The National seems almost genetically engineered to prosper—or inspire awe—in a live setting. In seven albums since 2001's self-titled debut, the band has been building a songbook positively stacked with swooning compositions like "Squalor Victoria" (a cavernous and heartfelt elegy from 2007's Boxer) and "Mr. November" (a more upbeat, perhaps sarcastic scorcher from 2005's Alligator about "how uncomfortable it is to run for president"). The band is currently on tour supporting 2017's Sleep Well Beast, which is notable for staking out slightly new terrain: melodies that morph into itchy electronic explorations. Finding out how this will play out live and lock in with the band's other solidly established soundscapes is one of the major appeals of this show.

Equal excitement is merited for opener Lucy Dacus. A Virginia-born singer-songwriter whose first wide exposure came with tunes steeped in wry, slacker surveys of the modern emotional landscape, Dacus deepens her material on this year's sophomore full-length, Historian. The wistful melancholy of the previous record's minor breakthrough "I Don't Wanna Be Funny Anymore" evolved into the tough-minded memoir of "Nonbeliever" and the heartbreak survival epic  "Night Shift." Without sacrificing her sharp sensibility, Dacus opts for lush, complex arrangements that serve as the perfect restlessly fluffed pillow for her rich vocals. It should be an ideal flow from support to headliner. —Daniel Seeger

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