Concert Reviews

Over The Weekend: Kurt Vile & The Violators at City Tavern

Kurt Vile & The Violators
City Tavern
November 19, 2010

Better than:  Revisiting the Nightmare

This was sooo much better.  

Forced to relocate from what would have been a triumphant re-opening of Club DaDa to City Tavern (thank you, ponderous permitting process of our local government), Kurt Vile and the Violators delivered an energized performance to a full house Friday evening.   Demanding ever more echo and reverb from the soundman as they were getting ready to start, you know it was gonna get loud and fuzzy. 

And sure enough, it did!

The evening kicked off with a high decibel version of "Good Lookin Out", a song from the Hunchback CD that Vile was selling at last year's disappointing Halloween show.  The song set a pattern repeated in several of the tunes in the hour-long set.  Percussionist Mike Zeng would beat out a jungle rhythm, often using a mallet stick and bare hand.  Vile and the other two Violators (Adam Granduciel and Jesse Turbo) stand hunched over and playing reverb drenched guitars, with Vile singing and woo-whoing his lyrics.  The combination of volume and complex droning swept up most of the audience.

The set hit on a number of highlights from last year's Childish Prodigy.  Vile switched between acoustic six and twelve string guitars, a Les Paul and something sparkly red, white and vintage. In all cases, the sound was saturated and intensely electric.  Among the highlights the band ran through were Overnite Religion, Amplifier (with Turbo trading guitar for saxophone), and closed out the set with a more electric version of He's Alright.

With some in the crowd calling out requests for songs like Space Forklift from Vile's earlier releases, it was clear that he had some real fans in the audience.  And on the merch table this time he was offering up a 7 inch single with an early release from his next album, scheduled for an early spring release.  If this EP is any indication, expect a shift towards more a acoustic feel.

Kurt Vile and the Violators have loads of talent, and continue to explore how best to channel it for the forces of good.  This experience was a dramatic improvement over last year for both artist and audience, and next time promises to be better still.

Critics Notebook

Random Note:
  A lot of artists apply layers of guitars in their recordings like Vile.  But rather than try and recreate that sound live using loops, Vile and the Violators take the more direct approach of three guitarists playing the parts live on stage.  It makes for a much more dense sound.

Personal Bias:  I'm a huge fan of Vile's acoustic work, and would have enjoyed him taking the spotlight and playing one of his showcase acoustic songs like he did last year when he played Slow Talker off the Constant Hitmaker release.  Maybe next time we'll get more of Vile's softer side.

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Doug Davis

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