Kurt Vile played acoustic guitar last night at the FADER sponsored free night at Brooklyn Bowl- which is kind of my favorite place in the world- except when it comes to seeing bands. The stage is perfect for, say, Death Cab for Cutie or some other major lamo emo-band with a huge following. But Brooklyn Bowl is a cavernous bat cave, and Kurt Vile is a skinny, probably 5’6″ scrawny guitar player. It just didn’t look, feel or sound right.
Maybe with his band he could have pulled it off. Maybe.
I love Kurt Vile — some of his songs make me want to run around screaming like Maria in The Sound of Music, but last night I’d rather have been a bowler screaming when her team wins.
This is a example of wrong place, wrong time. So I honestly don’t feel writing a review of Vile to be productive. Could he have known better? Sure. Should he have run loops on every song to bolster the sound as he did on a few but not all tracks? Yes. But the guy has been non-stop touring for months, so I don’t think he needs to be harangued.
Why did the FADER book him to play this show? Of course they love him, we all do. Perhaps it was contractual?
Small Black, on the other hand, fit the setting. And the crowd knew it. Unlike when Vile played, people stayed around and danced during their set. Honestly it was sad to see Vile all alone on a big, bright and empty stage while the crowd thinned out.
Small Black performed while I was eating chicken across the room. They were having a ball — moving all over the stage and utilizing their effects and sound systems well. At first I thought their sound was a bit dull, but they got into the groove like Madonna, and played a fun and inspired set.
Not a bad night, but I was hoping for a little more passion. Vile should stick with the Silent Barn. Agreed?