The National

ACL Live Shots

ACL Live Shots
Photo by Gary Miller

The National

Zilker Park, Oct. 10

Festival magic can strike at any time, but sunset sets take the cake at Zilker Park. The Brooklyn-based National is led by scruffy, suit-wearing Matt Berninger, a singer whose stage presence and songs make him the bastard son of Iggy Pop and Leonard Cohen. The outfit tipped its hand early in its fan-friendly mix, starting off with the low-key "Anybody's Ghost" off the new High Violet. As darkness neared, "Bloodbuzz Ohio" ("I was carried to Ohio in a swarm of bees") quieted the chatterboxes in the crowd. Arrangements were bolstered by an embarrassingly lush array of instrumentation for an indie-rock bill, including brass and strings (and a lovely walk-on from Arcade Fire collaborator Owen Pallett, who's been opening solo for the band on tour). Berninger couldn't resist gentle jabs at older acts on-site: He offered $1,000 to anyone willing to burst an enormous beach ball bouncing in front of the stage, then joked that Wayne Coyne might be inside. Was his dedication of the set's last song (before one of the weekend's very few impromptu encores) to the Eagles serious? Highlights from this imperial performance also included "Squalor Victoria," "England," and the sweeping new "Terrible Love."

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