[MUSIC ~ Indie Rock/Indie Folk/Lo-Fi ~ USA]
The Gov, Sat 27 Apr.
Kurt Vile and band meander onto the stage and launch into the first song Loading Zone with barely any acknowledgement of the audience, setting a pattern which continues for most of the evening. He appears not to know or care what town he’s in. The lack of interaction with the audience doesn’t seem to stem from any sort of arrogance, more likely part of the slacker ethos or maybe he just needs to focus on his music.
The music itself is groovy and hypnotic, and it’s pretty difficult not to be swept up in the loopy mesmerising vibe. There’s a lot of guitar work to take in, whether it be from Vile or one of his offsiders. There’s a new album Bottle It In to showcase (Loading Zone, Bassackwards, Check Baby, Cold Was The Wind, Yeah Bones, Mutinies), and some old favourites to revisit. There’s a bit of deadpan Lou Reed going on with some of the vocals, a touch of Neil Young in approach to the songs, and perhaps his job has been made a little easier by the likes of Kurt Cobain.
Vile certainly keeps the guitar tech busy, as he swaps instrument between every song, bringing out a wide range of electric and acoustic guitars, and banjo for one song (I’m An Outlaw). Surprisingly it’s often the acoustic guitars which get the loudest – building up from gentle acoustic intros into wah wah pedal and fuzz box wall of noise. Violators Jesse Trbovich and Rob Laakso also have a busy night both swapping from guitar to bass to keyboards, again a swap occurring almost every song. Drummer Kyle Spence appears to be the one constant holding it all together.
Kurt Vile’s lyrics don’t always stand up to too much close scrutiny (“Check baby, check baby, one two three, that’s alright with me…/Amphetamine, amphetamine, you know what I mean”) and much of the time they seem like half-spoken random thoughts. He is not one to stick to traditional song-crafting formulae. Three minute pop songs are never on the agenda as several songs wander on for eight or nine minutes; twelve songs in a 70 minute set, followed by a three song encore.
Second song in the encore, crowd favourite Pretty Pimpin’ shows how good it can get. A surprisingly diverse audience has got what they came for.