Kurt Vile & the Violators

support True Widow
author BV date 05/12/13 venue Store Vega, Copenhagen, DEN

Having already ventured out to see Kurt Vile earlier this year at Amager Bio, it was with a sense of security and awareness of what I was going to witness that I left my home in the middle of a storm that had been hugely covered by local media, forcing it to reach near-apocalyptic proportions in some people’s eyes. As I entered a nearly empty venue on this very night, it seemed apparent that the hysteria had reached quite a lot of people, leaving a devoted few crowd-members to actually be here in time for the support act to start.

All photos by Philip B. Hansen

True Widow

Having never acquainted myself with True Widow before, I was actually quite surprised to see their brand of shoegaze, garage and other slightly heavier influences support an act well-known for his predominantly reverb-soaked slacker-rock. As True Widow made their remarkably anonymous entry on the stage, most crowd members remained skeptical with few people actually hanging around to see what this was actually all about – instead opting to hit the bar. To be honest, I don’t blame them as True Widow had such a mind-numbing presence on stage that I was finding it increasingly difficult myself to actually stand tall throughout the show. Bear in mind, I have a taste for monotonous, entrancing music but this was simply too dull for my personal tastes.

As the band opted to play a selection of songs where each one sounded like a new section of the previous song, bassist Nicole Estill did her best in laying down some mildly enthralling grooves. However, the hacksaw sound of guitarist DH Phillips did very little to let this become truly audible, occasionally damaging their interplay in their unusually un-nuanced soundscape where the rumbling of the bass, the chiming of the guitar and the pounding of the drums seemed to occasionally meld into one cacophonic mess. As True Widow neared the end of their set, more people seemed to have gathered in front of the stage yet the applause they received after having played for nearly 40 minutes seem strikingly vague. At this point, I was becoming quite restless in anticipation of the headliner, knowing that, although Vile is also quite the introvert performer, the show would at least probably have a slightly more enthralling edge to it.

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Kurt Vile & the Violators

As the lights dimmed once more and Kurt Vile & the Violators hit the stage, it was to a far more significant applause, signifying that those few, who had now become quite a few, that had defied the storm seemed sincerely thrilled to see the man himself on stage. As the band came off to a rough start with a mildly jumbled version of “Wakin’ on a Pretty Day”, the sound engineer had to spend a few of the initial minutes to get the sound to come out just right. As soon as he had done that, though, Vile’s acoustic guitar leads, dribbled with phaser and reverb effects, came off as distinctly ethereal on top of the earthbound, solid foundation of the Violators. Moving into a splendid rendition of “KV Crimes”, the sound was now at perfect level – both in terms of volume and mix. The droning, sometimes inaudible vocals of Vile were enthralling as the crowd listened closely for those golden nuggets of wisdom some claim his lyrics to be, whilst others – such as myself and a friend of mine, opted to really get into the groove that this highly dynamic band managed to create.

As Kurt Vile remained his usual shy, quirky self the most one could hope for in terms of crowd-contact was those single word utterances like small, shy outbursts of “yo!” that would eventually grow in size to be “Yoouw” or “Yiiaawh”. Nonetheless, as Vile and his Violators progressed into “Jesus Fever” and later on “A Girl Called Alex” the grooves manifested earlier seemed to linger on – a bit too long, for some people apparently, as Vile’s frequent lapses into slacker psychedelia seemed quite off-putting to the female segment of the crowd in particular. I guess it’s understandable in a way, as Vile seems interesting to the male segment because of his laid-back guitar work that essentially glorifies the slacker-demeanor any guy really wants to adopt, whereas his acoustic work, like the night’s excellent rendition of “Peeping Tomboy”, seems strangely appealing to the female segment as they, in words I overheard on the night, thought he was a; ”shy cutie you just wanna cuddle with”.

As Vile approached “Feel My Pain”, the insight into himself seemed profound as the lyric ”I never did much talking anyway” rang through the half-empty venue. Coming up on the last song before the encores, the mercilessly pounding “Freak Train”, Vile and his Violators lapsed into a rampant outburst of escalating psychedelia as Vile’s guitar sounds had the vibe of controlled cacophony as it was layered on top of the merciless drum beats, the pounding bass and an experimental saxophone lead. As the band went full-on psychedelic it became apparent that this, this lapse into something remarkably dynamic, yet awfully chaotic seemed to be an appropriate end to a night of chilled out semi-psychedelic slacker rock. As such, the crowd could probably have gone home feeling satisfied without the two following encores – however, this was not to be as Kurt Vile & the Violators came back for more, as is tradition for any band at this point I guess, making the whole ‘rush out from stage only to emerge back in 45 seconds’ act seem relatively redundant, if not obsolete. As Vile closed the set of the night with an entirely acoustic track, the crowd mellowed out and left Store Vega to defy the storm after just having been blown away by a shy slacker from Philadelphia.

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