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Posts Tagged ‘Kurt Vile & the Violators’

(Editor’s Note: This piece appears on The Bowery Presents The House List. Check it out here)

Behind swaths of hair and layers of distortion, Kurt Vile, the man and musician, is easy to lose. He and his four-piece band, the Violators, wear chest-length hair draped over their faces, sharing an identical neo-grunge aesthetic. And with up to four guitarists onstage at a time, Vile’s own instrumental contributions occasionally assimilate into rock slosh. This isn’t to say, however, that Vile isn’t vital. For his first headlining show at The Bowery Ballroom, Vile, on the strength of his most recent critically acclaimed album, Smoke Ring for My Halo, drew a sold-out crowd, a group clamoring for the frontman’s musical output.

As a singer-songwriter, Vile’s melodies, expressed in slurred slacker vocals, touch on familiar American rock territory with a contemporary touch. Delay-saturated guitar riffs and pounding drums transformed “Ghost Town” and “Jesus Fever” from dynamic three-minute songs into sprawling anthems. The effect felt like Neil Young’s Live Rust given an indie-rock makeover, lots of grizzle with the addition of pulsating toms and huge reverb. But during a solitary performance of Smoke Ring for My Halo’s “Peeping Tomboy,” Vile’s intricate fingerpicking on acoustic guitar wove beautifully with playful, self-reflective lyrics. Moments such as this brought balance to a show that found Vile enveloped within his band. Yet, as one attendee noted, yelling out “I love your band,” a group-driven focus is the essence of Vile’s concerts. The unity is the name.

Additional pictures I took from the show after the jump: (more…)

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(Editor’s Note: This piece, slightly edited, is on The Bowery Presents The House List. Check it out here. Also, it is mentioned in Brooklyn Vegan’s write-up)

Midway through J Mascis’ set, the seasoned headliner invited Kurt Vile, opener and contributor to the former’s most recent acoustic album, Several Shades of Why, to accompany on the song “Make it Right.” As they shared the stage, a sense of mutual respect pervaded the room. Earlier, Vile, along with his touring band, the Violators, tore through his collection of guitar-based indie rock, dividing his focus between songs from earlier albums and his new one,Smoke Ring for My Halo“Hunchback,” a selection from Childish Prodigy, brought muscle, showcasing Vile and the Violators bent for deeply affected grooves. But armed with a simple, elegant acoustic guitar, Vile also found balance on Smoke Ring for My Halo’s “Jesus Fever”and “Ghost Town,” deftly matching his voice and guitar with the band’s tremendous sound.

Mascis, best known as the guitarist, singer and songwriter of Dinosaur Jr., followed Vile’s lead, intertwining his band’s recent work with quieter, introspective songs from Several Shades of Why. From a seated position, he occasionally glanced at a music stand holding a lyric book, but, most often, known guitar riffs took precedence over words. The live performance combined elements of Dinosaur Jr.’s sound, grungy distortion and piercing solos, parsed out of Several Shades of Why. But, with Vile’s help, Mascis colored the solo work, exploring the depths of each other’s songwriting and talent.

Additional pictures I took from the show after the jump: (more…)

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