That I love The National should surprise no one, but that’s not why I’m being frivolous on a Friday night and linking to their recent performance of “Mr. November” at Lollapalooza. I link because of the incidental jollity contained within and created by this unspectacular performance of a weaker track off their last album. The performance is captured from the crowd by R. Todd Morason:
The first memorable moment occurs at the 1:29 mark, when lead singer Matt Berninger drunkenly staggers over and begins to serenade a young girl seated on the left stage terrace. As soon as he notices her, he cleans up the lyric “I won’t fuck you over, I’m Mr. November” for her delicate ears. Her mother snaps a picture and writes up the experience. Having two bits of demonstrable proof of so unlikely event means we are living in the future.
Berninger then ambles off the stage entirely and into the crowd (2:10), at which point Morason loses him. He turns his phone to the large screens flanking the stage in an attempt to find him but fails (2:25), then pans right to survey the crowd again only to discover Berninger’s about to run into him (2:33). The whole scene seems choreographed, right down to the crowd becoming a communal road crew and passing Berninger’s wire above their heads.*
What began as a slightly off-key performance of a mediocre song becomes the sort of spectacle we all wish every concert will be as the lights dim and the first note sounds.
*Videos like this make me think the shaky cam’s days as a hallmark of televisual realism are numbered. The autocorrection function in cheap new cameras steadies all hands to the point where, in ten years, people will wonder why they let cinematographers continue rolling while in the midst of epileptic fits.