The National

Sunday, Sept. 16, Zilker park

ACL Music Fest Live Shots
Photo by Jay West

The National

The National's 2005 breakout, Alligator, was a predatory beast, slowly gaining momentum into a critical force and culminating with this year's exceptional Boxer. The Brooklyn group's songs build along a similar trajectory, gradually swelling into an epic ferociousness. Though their tortured, conflicted anthems demand dark drunken halls, the surging crescendos of violin, guitar, and keyboards crashing over Matt Berninger's melancholic vocals projected an overwhelming power, openers "Start a War" and "Mistaken for Strangers" driving defiantly against the afternoon sun. The ebb and flow continued through "Secret Meetings" and "Brainy," the crowd pumping fists along to "Squalor Victoria," with Berninger down front pressed against the barricade howling desperately back at the band. "I'm a perfect piece of ass. ... I'm a festival; I'm a parade," the lanky blond bellowed in a sardonic, boozy snarl on "All the Wine" before dropping into the delicate, disillusioned languor of "Racing Like a Pro." "Fake Empire" brought the violin forward in a whirlwind that stormed through to closer "Mr. November." The National have arrived, with force.

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 Music Reviews
Review: Holy Wave, <i>Five of Cups</i>
Review: Holy Wave, Five of Cups
Five of Cups (Record Review)

Raoul Hernandez, Sept. 1, 2023

Review: The Bright Light Social Hour, <i>Emergency Leisure</i>
Review: The Bright Light Social Hour, Emergency Leisure
Emergency Leisure (Record Review)

Raoul Hernandez, Aug. 4, 2023

More by Doug Freeman
Daniel Fears, Sydney Wright, AB6IX, and More Crucial Concerts
Daniel Fears, Sydney Wright, AB6IX, and More Crucial Concerts
Get out and get live

July 12, 2024

Caleb de Casper, Money Chicha, and More Crucial Concerts for the Week
Caleb de Casper, Money Chicha, and More Crucial Concerts for the Week
Classical, hip-hop, jazz, blues, and much more

July 5, 2024

KEYWORDS FOR THIS STORY

The National

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

Breaking news, arts coverage, and daily events

Keep up with happenings around town

Kevin Curtin's bimonthly cannabis musings

Austin's queerest news and events

Eric Goodman's Austin FC column, other soccer news

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