Kurt Vile & the Violators

support Lushes
author BV date 07/11/15 venue Amager Bio, Copenhagen, DEN

I’ve managed to see Kurt Vile perform live on several occasions now. If anything, I believe (or believed) that I have his performances figured out pretty well. You take one part slacker demeanor, one part marvelous guitar slinger, then you mix in a steady albeit anonymous backing-band and boom; we have a winner. At least that’s what previous experiences would tell me, so obviously expectations on this Saturday night were rather high due to Vile also having released a rather cool album lately. I therefore entered Amager Bio with an air of anticipation surrounding my very being. First, however, there was the matter of the support band to tend to.

All photos courtesy of Stefan Frank thor Straten

Lushes

Waxahatchee was originally planned as support for Kurt Vile & The Violators on this particular tour and, as such, I had tried my best to get into her music prior to the show. Having then discovered the change in lineup rather late, I had very little idea about who or what Lushes were, or indeed what they would sound like. What I was met by, was a noise-rock duo specializing in long, drawn-out passages intended for building suspense. To be fair, this was a relatively alluring idea on paper and I felt smitten during the first few minutes of their performance. However, as their rather laid-back and somewhat lackadaisical presence on stage didn’t give me or the crowd much visually to hang on to, those drawn out, cacophonic passages soon grew somewhat tiresome. Granted, there were interesting moments throughout their 40-minute performance – such as when guitarist/vocalist James Ardery nonchalantly took to wandering through the crowd while playing a persistent, hypnotizing guitar line or when the drumming just got really intense and you’d sort of drift away mentally whilst watching Joel Myers bang away at the drum kit. As they left the stage however, only one thought seemed to linger in my head; ”what the hell were they on, and how do I get some?”

5

Kurt Vile & the Violators

Following a rather lengthy changeover, Kurt Vile and the Violators finally entered the stage to the sound of a strangely upbeat track playing on the PA. To the tune of “Dust Bunnies” the crowd was introduced to Vile’s strange persona and almost non-existing stage banter. Although “Dust Bunnies” is most definitely a great track with its peculiar little Wurlitzer-based melody line sporadically appearing as a dynamic contrast to Vile’s almost undecipherable vocals and his rather unique guitar, there still seemed to be something left to be desired – soundwise in particular, as you’d either be drowned in bass or be deafened by the drum kit at times, depending on where you were standing in Amager Bio. With Vile’s newest hit, “Pretty Pimpin”, the crowd went quite nuts – portraying that the sold out venue was not just coincidental or a matter of random hype, but more a result of the general reception of Vile’s newest effort “B’lieve I’m Goin’ Down”. Although the tangled guitar riff of “Pretty Pimpin” was immediately alluring, Vile often seemed to struggle with performing both the intricate guitar parts and the not-so-straightforward vocal delivery – often times resulting in Vile falling out mid-sentence only to return once more with the final few words of every verse-line.

”Jesus Fever” temporarily gets the crowd going once more up until the duo of “KV Crimes” and “Wakin’ on a Pretty Day” makes its appearance. “KV Crimes” was performed steadily with no real hassles to it, slacker-like and straightforward for the most part. “Wakin’ on a Pretty Day”, however, didn’t fare quite as well as Vile’s guitar sound lacked a bit of that glorious phaser that makes the song itself become so entrancing. Coupling this with a rather insecure delivery of most of the song resulted in a less than desirable outcome with small segments of the audience actually leaving the show. Acoustically Vile seemed to fare much better as there was seemingly so little that could muddy up here. The undeniable highpoint of Vile’s show, for me, was the inclusion of an exquisite cover version of Bruce Springsteen’s “Downbound Train” which showcased a far more focused version of Vile and his Violators before the band ended their main set with “Wild Imagination”. As the band returned for two encores, I simply didn’t feel swayed by the lengthy version of “Freak Train” as I have been on previous occasions. It’s hard to put a finger on exactly what went wrong – were my expectations too high or was this experience just not up to the usually high standard Vile delivers? Either way, it just wasn’t anywhere near as great as it could have been.

Setlist:

  • 1. Dust Bunnies
  • 2. Pretty Pimpin
  • 3. Jesus Fever
  • 4. I’m an Outlaw
  • 5. KV Crimes
  • 6. Wakin’ on a Pretty Day
  • 7. Stand Inside
  • 8. He’s Alright
  • 9. Freeway
  • 10. Downbound Train (Bruce Springsteen cover)
  • 11. Heart Attack
  • 12. Wild Imagination
  • --Encore--
  • 13. Runner Ups
  • 14. Freak Train

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