Kurt Vile and the Violators at Shepherd’s Bush Empire
Let’s not categorise Kurt Vile, he would not like it (well, who does anyway?). Let’s just say he’s part of a new generation of musicians that play for the sake of playing. Vile hasn’t been on the scene for long, yet he already has five albums under his belt and is currently touring to support his latest release Wakin on a Pretty Daze.
As Kurt and his backing band the Violators take to the stage, the crowd’s chit-chat fades out and everybody is ready to be hypnotised by the music. This feels unexpected, as if no one is used to simply chilling and enjoying the show anymore. A few heads repeatedly nod in approval, but that’s all for the rest of the gig. Somehow boring at first, Wakin on a Pretty Day has a nice atmosphere and distorted sounds but it’s too low-key and contains way too many moaned “yeahs”.
KV Crimes follows, again a low-pitched voice swallowed up by the microphone. Next comes On Tour, Vile strumming on a classic guitar, his vocals kind of reminiscent of Dylan’s.
There is almost no rapport with the audience; Vile is completely devoted to his instrumentation and committed to a good performance – this, in a way, can be considered as the best gift a musician can give to the fans, as after all that’s why they’ve come to the concert. Throughout the show the artist keeps asking sound technicians for “more amp” and “more guitar”.
Girl Called Alex features riffs in loops and more acute keyboard sounds, but then the bass lines grow heavier. Vile addresses his fans saying “you guys are beautiful” and the gig takes a different turn.
The musician is left alone on stage to play acoustic versions of Peeping Tomboy and Feel My Pain. Vile’s voice echoes round the venue, his sound recalling Vedder’s; his long hair bothers him as in accordance with the song title, he painfully sings. It’s touching and someone in the crowd whistles to praise these moments of bliss.
Vile asks his fans how they are before being rejoined by the Violators. Was All Talk, Hunchback and Freak Train go in the opposite direction as rhythms get more fast-paced, the riffs more aggressive and Vile starts screaming and growling with all his heart.
After a brief encore the show is over and, as a true musician, Kurt comes near to the barriers to greet his fans and sign their tickets.
Photo: Erol Birsen
For further information and future events visit Kurt Vile and the Violators’ website here.
Watch a live performance of Peeping Tomboy here: