This is the review of last night’s show I wrote for the NYPress:
Kurt Vile hid behind his hair but stood center stage firmly and confidently. He had nothing to lose, nothing to fear. His Matador release, “Childish Prodigy,” just came out, he’s been on the positive side of the blog-buzz for many, many months and the Mercury Lounge was sold out.
Vile is from Philly, a city that seems to have a “strong solidarity behind our bands” thing going on. Birds of Maya, another Philly act, have played a couple of shows with Vile and the Violators on the tour. My friend from Philly told me to check them out months ago- “shredders” he called them- and he was right.
But back to Vile. He began the show with two acoustic numbers- the second and better one being “Peeping Tom,” which is so devastating in its intensity that I had to tweet the lyrics.
“I don’t wanna work, but I don’t wanna sit around.”
Here’s a video of that song shot at the Silent Barn by Ray Concepcion:
Vile’s band then joined him on stage for what can only be described as a riotous attempt. Attempting to tackle something is half the battle, but sometimes you don’t make it. Even though some of Vile’s new songs, notably “Hunchback” and “Overnite Religion,” were great with all the added embellishments (2 guitarists and a drummer) something was lost in the overkill. With so much behind him, Vile’s vocals took a back seat, and were delivered almost lazily. This is too bad because he is an expert syllabic singer: meandering over lines, changing notes and exchanging yelps with howls easily.
That said- the songs are still intriguing indie rock- some a little country, some a little bluesy, some even more avant-garde than you’d expect. On one particularly rollicking song, J Turbo, one of his 2 guitarists (why isn’t there a bassist???) literally wailed on the saxophone.
Kurt Vile performed well at what was surely a high-stakes show- I think as the tour goes on the band will get even more into the groove- and hopefully Vile will get the confidence to bring his singing back to the forefront.
A few words on Birds of Maya- damn!! Okay that was one word. But seriously, these guys were rhythm and blues with a punk rock kick. The guitarist, unlike Vile and his 2 guitarists, played with no pedals and was dancing and storming and jumping all over the stage all while playing like Jimi Hendrix- no joke. Vile and his bandmates seemed almost held back by the number of pedals in front of them- this guy had no issues like that. Heavy rhythmic bass guided the songs- leaving the guitarist to squeal all over them.