ACL Live Shot: the National

Loving our age’s terror, dread, drama

Matt Berninger and the cloud of sulfur the National summoned on Sunday, 10.6.13
Matt Berninger and the cloud of sulfur the National summoned on Sunday, 10.6.13 (by Shelley Hiam)

The National delivers catharsis in the most traditional sense: a misery-loves-company, populist uprising of release.

Slinking around the stage, clutching himself in the terror and dread of his own angst, Matt Berninger takes on the gripping anxiety of our age so that it might be contained and dissolved, and crowds love him for it.

Dramatic yet deployed to perfection, the National have managed to maintain the intensity of emotional strife and uncertainty even as the band matures and rounds well into its second decade with their sixth LP, this year’s Trouble Will Find Me. The Brooklyn quintet, supplemented by a duo of horns, opened with new cuts “I Should Live in Salt” and “Don’t Swallow the Cap” before building into the maddening, thick hum of “Bloodbuzz Ohio,” which proved aggressive against the lit backscreen splattered in red.

Berninger, in suit and tie and eyes hidden behind sunglasses as the shafts of sunset streaked down behind him, straddled the mic stand against the enveloping percussion of “Afraid of Everyone” and epic rise to “Squalor Victoria.” New tunes “Sea of Love,” “I Need My Girl,” and “This Is the Last Time” all melded seamlessly into the National’s catalog, and while they added little unexpected variation to their tension and release formula, save for the screaming rage from Alligator’s “Abel,” the bitter bite of “Fake Empire” still resonated.

In accordance, “Mr. November” emerged blisteringly anthemic as Berninger plowed his way through the festival crowd before closing with “Terrible Love.” The National manage to make misery magnificent.


For more ACL Fest coverage, see austinchronicle.com/acl. For photo galleries from the fest, see austinchronicle.com/photos.

A note to readers: Bold and uncensored, The Austin Chronicle has been Austin’s independent news source for over 40 years, expressing the community’s political and environmental concerns and supporting its active cultural scene. Now more than ever, we need your support to continue supplying Austin with independent, free press. If real news is important to you, please consider making a donation of $5, $10 or whatever you can afford, to help keep our journalism on stands.

Support the Chronicle  

READ MORE
More ACL Fest 2013
The Rain Can't Stop the Music
The Rain Can't Stop the Music
UPDATE: ACL acts including Mowglis make alternate plans

Richard Whittaker, Oct. 13, 2013

ACL Live Shot (Second Weekend): The Cure
ACL Live Shot (Second Weekend): The Cure
Robert Smith summons the rain

Doug Freeman, Oct. 13, 2013

More The National
ACL Live Review: The National
Live Shot: The National
U2’s arena rock heirs get obtuse

Dan Gentile, Oct. 13, 2018

The National: Fury & Squalor
The National: Fury & Squalor
One night at the Moody down, two to come

Doug Freeman, April 22, 2014

More by Doug Freeman
What We're Listening to This Week
What We're Listening to This Week
Otis Wilkins, Fuck Money, Cash Grab, Jake Lloyd, and more notable sounds

Aug. 12, 2022

Fifth Annual KOKEFEST Brings Clint Black and More to Hutto
Fifth Annual KOKEFEST Brings Clint Black and More to Hutto
Two-day lineup includes Turnpike Troubadours, Robert Earl Keen, Aaron Watson, and more

Aug. 5, 2022

KEYWORDS FOR THIS POST

The National, ACL Fest 2013, Matt Berninger

MORE IN THE ARCHIVES
NEWSLETTERS
One click gets you all the newsletters listed below

Breaking news, arts coverage, and daily events

Can't keep up with happenings around town? We can help.

Austin's queerest news and events

Eric Goodman's Austin FC column, other soccer news

Behind the scenes at The Austin Chronicle

Information is power. Support the free press, so we can support Austin.   Support the Chronicle