Kurt Vile and the Violators: DC Black Cat Backstage Show

kurt vile
Kurt Vile is a singer songwriter from Philly now touring with his band the violators. He has an approach to music that is certainly hard to define especially after seeing his live show last night at The Black Cat in DC. He has certain songs like “Freeway” that sound a little bit like they were inspired by classic rock and many have heard Tom Petty in it. This man’s music is very different and the show was at times disorienting but Vile’s creativity was something that was also comforting and for me sort of familiar. He started off the show with an acoustic song alone and the finger picking in this song was peaceful as he murmurs lyrics about tomboys and peeping toms. Ray Concepcion captured this song well in the video below.

The Silent Barn: Kurt Vile // Part One from Ray ConcepcioƱ on Vimeo.

Songs like “Freak Train” which are big major chord fuzzy rock were an exciting part of the show. He does some screaming during certain songs including this one and his voice is raw and does not fit into any real category of typical singer songwriter and it is definitely rough around the edges. The other guitarist picked up a saxophone and a harmonica during the set. I felt as if Vile has the obscure type of imagination of someone like Daniel Johnston especially in his lyrical ability that was hard to hear on some of the more rocking songs. His hair covers his face and you cannot really see him and at one point in the show someone yelled from the crowd “let us see your face” and he for a brief moment brushed his hair back for us to see. He ranges from fuzzy guitars to bluesy finger picking, speaking softly and yelling lyrics. The rhythms that drive through the songs seemed like they moved to Vile's beat, sort of jumpy and unpredictable. The show didn't end with any rock mantra wailing on into the night, it was him alone on an acoustic. There was no encore. Kurt Vile's live show... no pop sensibilities here.

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