Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Okkervil River & Damien Jurado

What an incredible show - truly mind blowing. Here are a few photos, more of mine here. Expect some great shots from Flatlander soon.

Flatlander Update:
Here are my shots and comments from the show:

jds and I disagree with Damien Jurado. He loved him while I found his stage presence to be so poor that it severely diminished the quality of his songs. I don't need someone to be a "rock star" at every moment but you can't shrink your body into a ball, mumble when speaking to the crowd and play minimalist version of already stripped down songs and expect anyone to give a shit. I like the half dozen songs of Jurado's that I have on my iPod but I don't need to ever see him live again. Having said that, jds is much more familiar with his music and perhaps a better judge of the performance. So, I'm curious to read his comments.

As bands have broaden the sound of indie music over the last few years with multi-instrumentation, many of those bands have chosen to tour with a subset of those musicians and instruments which leads to less dynamic live version of songs you've come to love. However, Okkervil River avoids that trap by busing around six musicians with acoustic, electric & pedal steel guitars, piano, organ, mandolin, trumpet, drums and bass. The sound was phenomenal. All of the orchestration of Sufjan Stevens without the precious tone. All of the fever of Rolling Thunder Revue without any of the sloppiness. Okkervil River is a great live band.

Will Sheff took the stage with the band and immediately showed a bit of humor by saying, "Hey Vermont! Holy crap! Vermont. Let's jam, man! Hey, look there's even a mini oriental rug on stage. Let's start with a four hour guitar solo!" It got me smiling and that smile grew even wider as they opened the set with "The President's Dead"; one of my favorite songs of theirs. 2/3rds of the way through the song when the full band kicked in, the smile changed to just a silent mouthed "Holy shit!" to jds.

Sheff has a charismatic rock star persona on stage but not in a "cock rock" way. More Morrisey or Robert Smith than Jon Spencer or Robert Pollard. The guy is in the middle of a four-month tour but he somehow manages to stir up enough passion within himself to give you the impression that the show you're watching is the most important show of his tour. And I suspect he pulls that off every night which makes for a great frontman.

One other thing that added to the show was that I hadn't previously realized how many songs of theirs I recognized. Throughout the show, I found myself thinking, "They've played everything I want to hear." However, then the next song would start and I'd go, "Oh, yea. I like that song too." Even the songs I wasn't familiar with were very accessible with their rollicking performance.

Nice size crowd at the show. Probably about 150-200 people. Everyone seemed to grow in their enthusiasm throughout the show also.

Their drummer, Travis Nelson, reminds me, in appearence and drumming style, of Animal from The Muppets; best Muppet ever.

For the final song of the encore, they busted out some sort of can of misting spray that they claimed was called "Rock Star Spray". It was kind of funny as they sprayed it around the stage but it also gave a hint to how they think they are more clever than they are. Although, it wasn't enough to annoy me.

Going into the show, I liked Okkervil River's music but wasn't blown away by it. I wasn't a "big fan". However, the show was one of those performances that was so good that it actually makes their albums sound better. I'd gladly drive a few hours to catch them again.

You can see the remaining tour dates here.

Also, Trendwhore has posted mp3 files of the entire Okkervil River show at La Sala Rossa in Montreal from the night before the VT show.


Flatlander said...

I tried to download the pictures from my camera last night but the battery in the camera died crossing the finishing line. I'll get them up tonight though.

Great show though. One of the best of the year.

Peter said...

I wanted to see both Grizzly Bear and Okkervil river but it didn't work out. But I do see Andrew Bird this friday :D

kingdomforavoice said...

I'm saving my pennies but i will be at the Beirut show this Saturday.

ryan the duke said...

thanks for the review and the link to us. we'll be at the beirut show on saturday as well.