Matt Berninger

If you don’t already know, EL VY is an incredible collaborative project of The National’s Matt Berninger and Menomena/Ramona Falls’ Brent Knopf. A couple singles were released months ago to get people excited and on October 30th their album Return to the Moon was available for public consumption. With fans of both artists correctly anticipating the greatness of this collab, most of their US tour dates were sold out long before the album was released. This week they did their first shows ever for about 300 lucky Portlanders who crammed into the Doug Fir on Monday and Tuesday night. I was lucky to be at their first show on Monday and it was MAGIC.

Despite being an indie rock superstar, Berninger is endearing and incredibly awkward at times. He walked onto the stage at Doug Fir and said, “Uh, I haven’t prepared any banter so uh, we’re just going to get started” and jumped right into back to back songs off their album. Throughout the set, he kept talking about how fast they were playing through their material and how they really needed more songs; he’s obviously used to 16 years of material with The National. The 11 tracks on EL VY’s album and one cover of Fine Young Cannibals’ hit She Drives me Crazy felt like a perfectly crafted set with highs and lows, not like all the tracks were from one album. I was in awe of how amazing all the songs sounded live when backed by a bevy of talented Portland musicians and it couldn’t have been a more perfect night of live music…

Okay, the end of that last sentence was a slight lie…it could have been more perfect if we didn’t have this annoying couple in front of us on what appeared to be a first date. I got to a point halfway through the show where I was trying to listen to the music but anger was bubbling inside me, and it was palpable in concert-goers around me, so I couldn’t concentrate. I eventually tapped the girl on the shoulder and did the classic schoolmarm index finger to the lips, “Sshhhhhhhh!” She looked spooked and stopped talking for almost ten full minutes. Little win!

Pro Tip: Meet for drinks prior to a concert date so you don’t talk full volume about stupid stuff through an amazing show. Also, I’m no expert on what you should and should not say during a date BUT when the dude asks you if you like some band and you respond with, “No, that music is too white for me.”…and you’re white…and he’s white…and everyone around you tenses up because of that awkward and v confusing racism. It’s probably NOT something you should say on a date…or like, EVER. Hat tip to the gentleman who stayed the rest of that trainwreck of a date just so he could enjoy the beautiful sounds of Matt Berninger’s voice live while she talked his ear off.

After you completely binge listen to the EL VY record, here are ten other unrelated songs I really liked this past week.



P.s. If I had it my way, I would’ve forgotten a playlist this week and just posted this 45 minute fire track of Drake repeating “Jumpman” over and over.