Kurt Vile Feels Right at Home at Terminal 5

October 28th, 2013

Kurt Vile and the Violators – Terminal 5 – October 25, 2013

So many times we see a band hit the playing–Terminal 5 phase of their trajectory accompanied by lasers, smoke machines and other hullabaloo (see: the Flaming Lips). But when Kurt Vile took the T5 stage on Friday night, it was quite the opposite: The vibe was laid back and, as if to accentuate the point, the only out-of-the-ordinary stage accoutrement was a couch in the back corner. Not just a couch, but one with a tapestry draped over it, like something you might have had in your freshman dorm room.

That isn’t to say there weren’t any pyrotechnics. Vile’s guitar playing was explosive and colorful, a spectacle unto itself. The second song, “Wakin on a Pretty Day,” the almost-title track off his best-of-year album perfectly embodied the entire set. Vile playing an acoustic guitar piped through pick-ups and pedals to give it a unique, electrified sound was both beautiful and vicious. His vocals came off with a stoner’s sweet nonchalance, somewhere between a mumble and deep thinker’s musing, while his band, the Violators, helped build an intense, hypnotic solo into a furious jam.

“Was All Talk,” another highlight, featured Vile spinning imagery about the “spirit in the sky” like a driving-toward-the-sunset daydream, and the Violators swirling an audio tornado—the line between acoustic and electric getting washed away in the process. “Girl Called Alex” was beautiful and ragged all at once, little zapped keyboard riffs accenting the psych rock nicely. Eventually, Vile did make it over to that couch for a tune, a single spotlight illuminating him and his fingers plucking stunning beauty on the acoustic guitar, his voice as strong as it had been all night. It really did feel like we were all in a ramshackle living room, watching an unappreciated talent futz around, those of us lucky enough to be there thinking, “Man, someday this guy’s gonna be playing Terminal 5….” —A. Stein

Photos courtesy of Gregg Greenwood |