The National Reserve don’t sound like they’re from Brooklyn. The five-piece rock outfit took to the River stage donned in grass-stained denim and faded plaid. The hazy Philadelphia skyline rose up behind them, a breeze off the water providing relief from the pressing summer heat and their southern tinged, roots rock.
They opened with the upbeat, stomp-dancing “Don’t Be Unkind,” conjuring images of tipped cowboy hats and Texan ranches. The songs off their latest album, Motel La Grange, were heavily piano-driven, with blusey, electric keyboard solos that grew increasingly chaotic. They slowed it down for the ballad “Roll On Babe,” bearded vocalist Sean Walsh wielding a gorgeous fire-engine-red hollow body guitar.
To introduce the finale, guitarist Jon LaDeau leaned into the mic to ask, “You guys like rock n roll music?” When the cheering died he added with a devilish grin, “You guys wanna hear some rock n roll music?” They launched into the summer jam “California,” joined by a second drummer in a T-shirt reading Neil + and the Real, keeping the ecstatic energy alive toward the very last wavering crescendo. Listen back below, and check out a photo gallery.