Kurt Vile and the Violators waltzed into my life for the first time in early 2014, not long after the release of their masterpiece LP Wakin’ On A Pretty Daze. The record soon became the soundtrack to my life.
Road-tripping to Byron and back I had successfully delved into their discography, and before I knew it I had formed a nostalgia based attachment to their music. Each of their musical endeavors unique within itself, yet always featuring a subtle nod to greats like Petty, and Dylan.
Last night’s show at the Sydney Opera House for their latest release B’lieve I’m Going Down was the first time i’d be seeing them live, as well as my first show of 2016 – the vibes were joyous. I was anxious, and excited, and couldn’t wait to hear the tracks that had impacted my life so heavily, play out in front of me.
The crowd was varied, packed in across the room, squirming in their seats, waiting for the arrival of Vile and his Violators, and as they entered the room at approx 9:30, we were met with a casual ‘hey’, and a wave of normalcy hit us – These men aren’t rock stars, they are musos who corrupt minds with the way they touch their instruments, they didn’t need to prove it with over the top attire, and attitudes. It was almost as though they’d come straight from playing in a garage, to playing on the stage – amateur energies, with a mature, masterful sound.
The show was broken up into full band and ‘Kurt only’ acoustic intervals, as well as a 3 song encore that seen Kurt on keyboard, and his best friend taking over the drum-kit. It was madness – cool, calm and collected chaos that had me in a state of ecstasy for the entire hour and a half.
The first true burst of excitement roared from the crowd as the band broke out into Pretty Pimpin’ two songs in, though I was more impressed with his twangy, serpentine banjo solo in third track, I’m An Outlaw. Playing songs from new, and old records, including KV Crimes, and Wakin’ On A Pretty Day from my most cherished of their releases, the highlight of the evening was no doubt his acoustic performance of new track, Stand Inside.
The finger picking, and intimate lyricism along with Kurt’s pure, crystal clear execution had scattered vast amounts of emotion throughout the audience – I was captivated mind, body, and soul. With each ‘oh my god, I love ya’ that he sung, I slumped forward a little more, getting drunk on his very own distinct brand of poetry. Freaktrain seen the addition of saxophone, which added to the overall appeal of the evening – even more so when they brought the song to a purposely twisted ending, much alike those heard on Van Morrison’s Astral Weeks.
Kurt Vile and The Violators were, for the most part, keeping the banter to a minimum, with the exception of a few witty remarks, and thanks from Kurt, including the few seconds he had us fooled into believing they were about to dive head first into a Pink Floyd cover (ahhh, how great that could’ve been).
My first show of the year, and my first time seeing the band in the flesh was an unbridled victory. It was a night of nostalgia, poetry, and stack loads of inspiration. Call me deranged, but having witnessed Vile in all his glory, I b’lieve he is one of the few contemporary saviors of rock n roll – ambiguous rock n roll, that keeps modern music compelling, electrifying, and arousing in all its quirkiness.
I’m An Outlaw
Wakin’ On A Pretty Day
Lost My Head There
Girl Called Alex
Peace, love, and keep singin’ the Blues,