The National & Alvvays Concert Recap

Photos: Austin James

An enthusiasm erupted from South Side Ballroom as Toronto-based indie dream-pop band Alvvays came out to get the Saturday night lineup started. Opening up for The National, they dove right into their hypotonic surf sound, quickly assembling to play “Hey”. Lead singer Molly Rankin eagerly greets the crowd, following with, “Today is Alex’s birthday. He’s not all that happy about it. Today kinda sucks,” Rankin bluntly says.

Photos: Austin James

If you’re anything like us you’ve likely seen Alvvays a handful of times in DFW, and each time you know you’re in for a sonic adventure. As architects of sound, the group knows how to perfect their tracks to an exact science each and every time. As they go into “Not My Baby” you’re whisked away into a lullaby of lively dream rock. You could hear the crowd sing along to “Archie, Marry Me” in a blissful daydream, which was quickly followed up with their catchy power ballad, “Dreams Tonite” off their 2017 album Antisocialites. Ending with “Next of Kin”, the band was short with words, but their music spoke for itself.

On their Sleep Well Beast tour, The National packed in South Side from wall to wall. From Cincinnati, Ohio, the Grammy Award-winning band has been drawing a crowd from festivals to shows since 1999 and isn’t slowing down. As their tour implies, the band performed a majority of tracks off their 2018 LP Sleep Well Beast including “The System Only Dreams in Total Darkness”, “Guilty Party”, and “Day I Die”.

“Last time we were here Alec and I were walking back in the ally way and some scary guy yelled at us, ‘Hey!....You guys smell dope.’ (in reference to Alec’s strong smelling cologne). And that’s why we’re back,” says lead singer Matt Berninger in a laugh.  

Photos: Austin James

Berninger’s voice, deep and intoxicating, cut through the crowd with his first breath of “Nobody Else Will Be There“. However, the song was interrupted and restarted twice due to a medical emergency with a fan in the crowd. “Thanks for being chill”, Berninger said patiently before starting the song over. “As many times as it takes,” he says for the third attempt, and finally makes it through track.

Berninger was a true gentlemen and performer the entire show, standing on amps and getting personal with the crowd, even moving the mic to sing “Walk It Back” side stage for all the fans hidden and out of sight. His raspy, raw voice echoed through the crowd embellished with dark and haunting melodies. Romantic guitars, trickling piano and extraordinary instrumentals soundtracked the animation of Berninger and band through the night.

Ending with a four-song encore including “Terrible Love” and  “Vanderlyle Crybaby Geeks”, The National serenaded the audience for an incredibly captivating performance.

Concert ReviewAmy Mrstik