Kurt Vile – [Live]

Tuesday, 04 June 2013

Kurt Vile is an odd looking fellow.
Sorry, I just felt the need to get that off my chest.
Having close ties to Philadelphia, it's great to catch Kurt Vile live. His latest album is a quiet storm of guitar layers and one of my favorite albums out this year. Having since moved to Boston and maintained my love for all things Vile, it was a given that I was going to be at this show.
Vile stuck mostly to new songs on his set list, which I was perfectly fine with. More so, it was great to see that with the length of these new songs (some near ten minutes), there's never the tediousness one would expect in these situations. Especially since the songs (such as "Hunchback" and "Freak Train") escalated to the heavier, Childish Prodigy stuff at the end  of the show, and got really loud.
Also, one had to marvel at how such a broad sound can be so well recreated with just five dudes on stage. The songwriting might be simple in Vile's catalog, but the music is anything but. On the band's releases, the guitar work is always embellished and intricate with bells and whistles peppering every song but, live, one can hardly imagine how this few people can make so much noise yet stay so faithful to the original compositions.

Kurt Vile is arguably the best indie artist/rock musician to come out of Philadelphia in recent years, and it's wonderful to see him get some recognition as he has been very focused in creating a new sort of sound, which keeps expanding and developing with each album as he carves a niche for himself. The weird looking dude that he is….



Kurt Vile's tour continues. Click here for an updated list of shows.


Kurt Vile – [Live]

Tuesday, 26 January 2010

Ever seen an opening band almost sacrifice the headliner? On a seasonably (and completely expected) cold and windy Friday night in Philadelphia, my friends and I are on the top floor of Johnny Brenda’s thinking just that.

We were there to see Kurt Vile, and it just so happened that we showed up early enough to see both opening bands play –  so much for being fashionably late. We made our way on to the top floor, ordered some Oyster Stouts, and prepared to soak in suds and sounds.

The first opening band, Home Blitz, wasn’t bad. They were actually enjoyable; they sounded a bit like a surfier Bananas to me, which sounds awesome on many levels. I’m Okay with an opening band’s sound contrasting the main act and for the lineup to have balls (after all, I’ve seen Huckleberry Thrill open for 98 Mute), but this is where one must be careful, as the balls were fully on display in the form of Strapping Fieldhands opening for Kurt Vile.

Now I know these guys are supposed to be some occult phenomenon having opened for Pavement, The Frogs, and the Jon Spencer Blues Explosion in their career, but off-key radio country rock performed by a crew who looks like your dad and his friends garage band finally got a break simply did not resonate; we were perplexed during their performance and nothing short of bummed-out when they finished. We felt ready to leave.

Luckily, the mere sight of Kurt Vile and his Violators setting up sparked interest; no hi-hat for their drummer (but still a drum machine on site), no bass, and an endless array of guitar pedals absolutely cluttering the stage.

Now this looks like something!

From the opening chord of the opening song, things immediately start cooking in the room. A band recreating their studio sound perfectly is usually seen as a detriment – they’re expected to bring something fresh and different on stage, after all – but, while this might be the case for a more polished band like the Shins, a band like Kurt Vile’s actually scores points for the effort. One listen to "Childish Prodigy" should be enough to convey that the album has layers of percussion and garage noise; nothing extravagant for a studio album. Even so though, seeing them recreate the complexity and layers in their songs live with minimal instrumentation was amazing to say the least. In this sense, Kurt Vile wins. It’s as simple as that and, as he and his Violators ripped through impeccable recreations of "Hunchback," "Dead Alive," "Freak Train" and "Heart Attack," among others, it was only insult to injury to see them make it look so easy.

Questlove might be the Grand Poobah of the Philadelphia music scene but, next time Kurt Vile comes to town, make sure to catch his version of what the Philadelphia music scene has to offer. He just made Questo’s job a whole lot easier.



Childish Prodigy is out now. Buy it here on Amazon .

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