The National’s Matt Berninger Performs A Cover Of Big Thief’s ‘Not’ At A Benefit Concert

Matt Berninger headlined the benefit concert Dream Serenade Saturday night. The National singer, backed by a full band, gave an eloquent performance of Big Thief’s soulful track “Not.”

Berninger stood front and center on stage with a music sheet stand and used his textured voice to embellish the cover. “It’s not the formless being / Nor the cry in the air / Nor the boy I’m seeing / With her long black hair,” he belted.

Berninger’s headlining set concluded Dream Serenade’s sixth year. The Toronto benefit concert raises funds for children with developmental disorders and their caregivers. Other acts that made appearances throughout the night included U.S. Girls, Barenaked Ladies, and Shad.

While Big Thief wasn’t present themselves at the benefit concert, Berninger paid homage to the band. “Not” is the seventh track off Big thief’s latest record Two Hands. The record, released in October, marks the second album Big Thief released in 2019 alone. The band previously put forth U.F.OF. in early May, their third studio record. Adrienne Lenker, Big Thief’s lead singer, said the record was about facing fears: “Making friends with the unknown. All my songs are about this. If the nature of life is change and impermanence, I’d rather be uncomfortably awake in that truth than lost in denial.”

Berninger, like Big Thief, has experience with releasing two records close together. In an interview with Uproxx, Berninger discussed the decision to release I Am Easy To Find shortly after their previous record. “I’ve always felt like we were a different kind of band than how we are talked about,” he said. “So this record doesn’t feel like a huge leap to me. But it will to some, because there are so many voices other than mine on it.”

Watch Berninger cover Big Thief’s “Not” above.