Kurt Vile & the Violators Walters November 6, 2013
"I promise not to party... too hard," sings Kurt Vile on his track "Too Hard." Earlier this week, Vile spoke to us about the importance of maintaining his role as a responsible husband and father of two while on tour. This apparently has something to do with not partying too hard.
Vile kept up his end of that bargain last night at Walter's - well, sort of; he swigged from a bottle of Patron, chased it down with a can of Red Bull, and puffed on a solitary cigarette, all before taking the stage. Once he strapped on his guitar, however, the edge was off, and Vile was in the zone.
Veiled behind a furled heap of encompassing hair, Vile and his band, the aptly named Violators took the stage at the stroke of midnight. (Evidently, Wednesday is the new Friday, as Walters crammed four acts into one too-lengthy evening.)
"You're a sweet, sweet crowd," Vile said, briefly brushing aside his mop of coiled locks, just long enough for us to glimpse the boyish face hidden behind them.
The Violators weaved through songs from Vile's new release, Wakin On a Pretty Daze, including its (almost) title track and "Was All Talk," as well as older tunes like "Freeway," from 2009's Childish Prodigy and "Jesus Fever," from 2010's Smoke Ring For My Halo.
The set in general was tighter than the first time I'd seen The Violators live, in Dallas back in 2010 -- this might have something to do with the fact that the band actually rehearses now, according to Vile.
He often punctuated verses with abrupt "woo!" yelps, doused in reverb -- among the only variations from his distinctively deep drawl delivery. His distinguishing cadence was even more so pronounced live: his vowels were exaggeratedly dragged out, some lyrics were indecipherably muffled, and some songs contained whole added verses of Vile just singing "Yeah, yeah, yeah, yeeeeah." If you know and love Kurt Vile, these are all good things.
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As the set neared its end, The Violators bowed out for a few songs, allowing Vile to tackle "Peeping Tomboy" and "Feel My Pain" solo and acoustic.
The crowd thinned out somewhat by the time the band returned to the stage, most likely due to the fact that it was nearing 1 a.m. A spirited delivery of "Freak Train" jolted us back into electric territory, closing out the set, but the band quickly returned to the stage for their final closer, "Girl Called Alex."
During our interview earlier this week, Vile referred to music as his "thing" -- meaning, it's his job, his art, his passion, and his business, all in one. While watching Vile onstage, that much was evident. Music comes naturally to him, it's what he's good at - and he knows it -- as evidenced in the lyrics to Wakin tune "Was All Talk": "Making music is easy," he sings. "Watch me."
Personal Bias: I love Kurt Vile. He's among the best and most unique contemporary artists around. I would, however, have liked to hear "He's Alright" ('cause gettin' older's so last year) and "Baby's Arms" ('cause there's been but one true love)...
The Crowd: Lots of dudes, and lots of folks specifically there to see openers Beach Fossils. who were awesome. VBA were really good, too.
Overheard In the Crowd: Some guy likening Vile's stage presence to a celery stalk.
Random Notebook Dump: If you haven't heard Kurt's cover of Nine Inch Nails' "Down In It," please watch this now.
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