The National appeared on The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon on Monday night for a performance of “Dark Side of the Gym” off their latest album Sleep Well Beast. The song finds Matt Berninger and company in peak melancholia. The song is a prom-song, slow-dance piano dirge, one that is elevated from potential “rainy teen movie montage” territory by the exquisite textures The National have become experts at threading into their songs.
The feeling of heavy-hearted infatuation is enhanced by the dancers who spring around the stage, an encapsulation of youthful love and the skin-trembling possibility of the darkened school gymnasium the song is about. Berninger’s lyrics compliment their tender movements in surprising ways: “I have dreams of / anonymous castrati / singing to us from the trees,” he sings while the dancers embrace, making a sweet scene from complicated imagery.
Check it out below, along with The National’s 2007 Daytrotter Session.