Kurt Vile & the Violators

support Will Samson
author BV date 29/05/13 venue Amager Bio, Copenhagen, DEN

In my experience as both a reviewer as well as a concertgoer in general, there are several kinds of gigs you can go to – even after discerning them by genre, artist or whatever. By that I mean to say that the gig of the night, Kurt Vile & The Violators, was one of those gigs where I had little to no prior encounters with the act but nonetheless found myself quite excited about the fact that I was going the show. Confused? – Well, so was I. After some mild issues with my apparent lack of credentials, despite being confirmed for the show, I was finally inside the safe confines of Amager Bio once again – just in time for a quite peculiar night.

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Will Samson

Let’s kick things off by remarking that the support act of the night was a quite peculiar choice indeed. The young singer/songwriter Will Samson seems to be known for his vast reliance on ambiance, occasional backing tracks and a Jeff Buckley-ish falsetto vocal set. Unfortunately it seems that Will Samson had an off night of sorts, as his vocal prowess had left the building – thus making most of his set seem more like a vague attempt at singing within the proper tonal range required. Pair this unfortunate situation with the anguished faces he tended to make during his short 35 minute set and you would have no choice but to stand there, wondering whether or not this show was actually meant to be taken seriously. It wasn’t all bad though and there were redeeming factors present; an example of such could be his beautifully chiming guitar parts that created an ambience so relaxing that, for the most part, I felt awfully comfortable and I could easily imagine myself falling into a wonderful nap to the sound of that beautifully sculpted ambience. So, while the crowd was vaguely intrigued for the most part, Will Samson never really reached any climactic points, nor did he show off any vocal prowess. To be fair though, it seems that he is awfully close to perfecting the formula for a highly effective lullaby.

5

Kurt Vile & the Violators

When Kurt Vile & the Violators took stage at 21:00 I wasn’t sure what to expect. I had previously heard accounts of his fondness for excessively long tracks that remained true to the verse/chorus/verse formula and I felt horrified by the notion of spending several hours listening to just that, despite my own fondness for the long runners. As Vile and his merry men kicked off the shenanigans with “Wakin’ on a Pretty Day” we were instantly taken in to a voluptuous soundscape that lasted approximately ten minutes. Much to my own surprise however, this track worked excessively well in the live setting as Vile dazzled us with his highly melodic solos on his acoustic(!) guitar. As the festivities continued with “Jesus Fever” and “Was All Talk” I am thinking that this particular set is quite strong and I am having a hard time seeing what could go wrong, as both Vile’s vocals, the bands tight playing and the sound in general was top notch. Five songs into the set however, it would seem that the sound tech has developed a crush on overtly loud drums and guitars – essentially drowning out the bass and, much to my dismay, the vocals.

It was therefore an absolute pleasure to see Vile picking up the acoustic once again, after alternating between that and his battered Fender Jaguar, to perform ”Snowflakes Are Dancing” and “Peeping Tomboy” absolutely unaccompanied – thus giving us a ‘rare’ opportunity of hearing his quite Dylan-esque vocals shine through the mix without excessively loud accompanying instruments. – this quieter setup also proved to work well for the adoring fans (female fans, of course) because they were now fully audible when screaming their heartfelt and loving words of affection at a clearly touched and slightly awkward Kurt Vile on the stage, that promptly remarked “Oh no, you shouldn’t have… You’re going to too much trouble for me…” However, as the band reemerged on stage after these two songs they seemed hell bent on jamming the hell out of the rest of the set, thus providing us with lengthy improvised sections with solos galore and sonic infernos courtesy of Vile’s vast array of effects pedals.

As the band progresses into the final song before the encores; “Freak Train”, the jamming seems endless and the fine textures are soon drowned out by the eerie and pulsating phaser sounds, as well as the guitars dripping with delay and reverb. – Oddly enough this setup works incredibly well on “Freak Train” and provides the audience with many a chance to once again scream out their various words of affection to the man of the hour. Overwhelmed by the crowd response, Vile and the Violators returned to the stage twice to play their encores, namely “Baby’s Arms” and “He’s Alright” – both of which served to intensify the crowds reactions towards him once again – leaving them utterly disappointed when he left the stage and called it a night after 95 minutes.

Setlist:

  • 1. Wakin on a Pretty Day
  • 2. Jesus Fever
  • 3. Was All Talk
  • 4. KV Crimes
  • 5. On Tour
  • 6. Shame Chamber
  • 7. Girl Called Alex
  • 8. Ghost Town
  • 9. Snowflakes Are Dancing
  • 10. Peeping Tomboy
  • 11. Hunchback
  • 12. Freak Train
  • - Encore -
  • 13. Baby’s Arms
  • 14. He’s Alright

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