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The National, September 9, Main Hall

Posted by Drew / September 29, 2005

New York's The National blew my fucking mind. Their frontman Matt Berninger blew my fucking mind. Who'd have guessed that underground pop's new god would have the jangly, unfocused charm of Crispen Glover crossed with the smooth, lazy vocals of Bill Callahan. But he does. And we love him. And we were all very drunk.

The National are an effortlessly tight band, their sound tinged with 80s goth-pop, but peculiarly modern. For now. Like, this very second now. Their penultimate album title gives a nod to Dirty Lovers, and Berninger's lyrics stick with the infinitely large topic of love and sex and all the messy beds in between. His songs explode the language of everyday romance, and, quite suddenly, we know what we meant to say all along.

I spoke with Berninger afterwards but I was too drunk, and way too awestruck to make coherence happen. I remember the following:

1. The National are all former Ohioans (if I had a dollar for every vowel in the mid-west) now living in New York City. 4 of them are 2 sets of brothers. 2 of those brothers may be twins.
2. Berninger is addicted to NetFlicks.
3. He used to work as a designer , which funded The National's recording habit. After this tour, he will probably be designing again.
4. He has the charming ly earnest manner of one who fears being misunderstood.
5. At the age of 34, he is not entirely comfortable with all his vices or his virtues.
6. The National want to make something beautiful out of the detritus--pain, heartache, disaster--of relationships.
7. Berninger got The Knack from his friend John in Cincinnati; he loves that album and wants to keep it forever.
8. He claims to be self-conscious, which is believable but not believable at the same time.
9. He loves New York. As many people from Ohio who now live there are wont to do.
10. I beseech you: See this band if ever you have the chance.

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