Tag Archives: the Violators

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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 | gregggreenwood.com

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One Not to Miss: Kurt Vile Tonight at Terminal 5

October 25th, 2013

Lo-fi singer-songwriter-guitarist Kurt Vile cares a lot about his sound. This could be said of most musicians, of course, but anyone familiar with Vile’s work knows that it’s all those little details that make his music so remarkable. All those guitar ditties that weasel their way into your head and never leave end up defining his songs as a whole. A lot of bands tend to leave these nuanced details out of their live show—or bury them sonically so that they’re hardly audible under everything else. But with Kurt Vile, he ensures that all those nuances are accounted for. And with the help of his backing band, the Violators, and a stage littered with effects pedals and guitars of every stripe, there’s an impressive depth to his live sound that’s easy on the ears. Behind swaths of hair and layers of distortion, it becomes noticeable that he comes from the J Mascis school of “let me throw down a huge and searing guitar riff without making it look like it takes any effort at all.” Kurt Vile (above, doing “Wakin on a Pretty Daze” live in studio for KEXP FM) is currently touring behind his fifth full-length, the superb Wakin on a Pretty Daze (stream it below), which NME calls “slacker pop perfection.” And if you don’t see him tonight at Terminal 5, well, you’ll have no one to blame but yourself. —Dan Rickershauser

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Kurt Vile’s Picking Up Steam

May 17th, 2013

Kurt Vile and the Violators – The Bowery Ballroom – May 16, 2013


Kurt Vile cares a lot about his sound. This could be said of most musicians, of course, but anyone familiar with Vile’s work knows that it’s all those little details that make his music so remarkable. All those guitar ditties that weasel their way into your head and never leave end up defining his songs as a whole. A lot of bands tend to leave these nuanced details out of their live show—or bury them sonically so that they’re hardly audible under everything else. But with Kurt Vile, he ensures that all those nuances are accounted for. And with the help of his backing band, the Violators, and a stage littered with effects pedals and guitars of every stripe, there’s an impressive depth to his live sound that’s easy on the ears.

Vile kicked off his show last night at The Bowery Ballroom with the title track to his latest album, Wakin on a Pretty Daze. He came out wearing a white denim jacket, white denim jeans and white Converse. All this white made his iconic gnarled mop of hair all the more noticeable. And when the jacket came off by the second song, you could see that it was lined with leopard print. For such an unassuming fellow, Vile’s got some subtle swag. While watching his guitar skills on “Jesus Fever,” it became noticeable that he comes from the J Mascis school of “let me throw down a huge and searing guitar riff without making it look like it takes any effort at all.”

Vile’s guitar playing is fun to watch, in part for how unconventional it is. At times during “Was All Talk,” he bent his thumb over his guitar neck to assist his other fingers. Toward the middle of the set, the Violators left Vile behind with just an acoustic guitar to play softer renditions of “Snowflakes Are Dancing” and “Peeping Tomboy.” The band returned for the loudest moment of the set, “Freak Train,” played with such krautrock momentum that the song seemed unstoppable. It eventually wound down out to an end, as did the show, but for the Kurt Vile train, this thing’s just starting to pick up steam. —Dan Rickershauser

Photos courtesy of Peter Senzamici | petersenzamici.com