Matt Berninger once again shows his love for President Obama as he performs during the pre- show of President Obama’s final State of the Union address with his band, El VY. The apparent love affair dates back to Obama’s campaign days, where The National, Berninger’s other band, dedicated a t-shirt to Obama, proclaiming him Mr. November after a song on their 2005 album, Alligator. Their song Fake Empire appeared in an Obama campaign ad (Remember, a Romney ad used it later and it was all kind of hubabaloo??). They opened up for him several times, and even donated proceeds to his campaign.
El Vy opened up with “No Time to Crank the Sun”. Brent Knopf, known from the bands Menomena and Ramona Falls, played piano. The slower, more melodic version seemed to capture some of the sentiments of the past years of Obama’s presidency. The song foreshadows some of the more poignant parts of the President’s speech, particularly the end where he talks about his failings in the past years, saying,
“It’s one of the few regrets of my presidency — that the rancor and suspicion between the parties has gotten worse instead of better. There’s no doubt a president with the gifts of Lincoln or Roosevelt might have better bridged the divide, and I guarantee I’ll keep trying to be better so long as I hold this office.”
Berninger’s slow croon of, “It got away from me” will echo in the hearts of anyone who can empathize with the difficulties of Obama’s presidency, between a hostile and resistant Congress and the tragic violence plaguing his two terms. Berninger apologizes for the lack of “pep” before moving into another “super sad, slow song” “Careless.” They close the set with “Need a Friend.” I was surprised to see El Vy did not perform the album’s title track, “Return To The Moon (Political Song for Didi Bloome to Sing, with Crescendo)”, but maybe that’s just because it says ‘political’ in the title and ‘senator’ in the first verse..
In any case, you should check out El Vy because if they are good enough for the President of these United States, then gosh darn it, my fellow Americans, they are good enough for you. And if you haven’t watched the State of the Union, I certainly recommend that as well.
By Morgan Schatzman
Side Note: I’ve had the unique pleasure of seeing both The National and Wale live. The end of Wale’s set included him screaming his name into the microphone while punching the stage at Landmark Music Festival in DC, which begs the question of why he was permitted in a fancy building. But ok.