There is a redemptive quality to hearing the live version of stuff: redemptive for an audience, and redemptive for the artist, like, for example, one Kurt Vile, who rocked hard at the Theatre Corona on Feb. 20th.
Despite Kim Gordon saying B’Lieve I’m Goin Down has been a “breath of fresh air,” I hadn’t been that struck by ditty’s like “Pretty Pimpin’.” Not because I was trying to be an asshole, but because I heard Vile when he was touring Smoke Ring, and I felt like calling his bluff. Just chuck on “Baby’s Arms.” Please.
Back to that redemptive quality I mentioned before. Kurt Vile can rip a mean guitar. With the Violators backing him up, he threw out those recent songs with genuine ferocity.
In that context, live, spontaneous, and loud, newer jams made more sense. Forced to re-examine them afresh brought new love and appreciation. All I had to do was Stand Inside.
Of course, all the kids hooted and hollered for the hit single off his new album, which Pitchfork says is “pure KV comfort food.” Cute.
But loyal lovers of Kurt Vile and The Violaters, who have watched his fast ascent into that hip festival-circuit life, hopefully won’t be swayed too hard by his latest, somewhat corny, offerings. I love Kurt Vile. I listen to his music every fucking day. That won’t stop just because he’s started yodeling along to his banjo about how he’s an outlaw. (I still love Neil Young and he’s put out some seriously questionable shit.)
I bought a ticket to Kurt Vile’s sold out concert and showed up an hour early so I could stake out the stage like a goddamned teenaged girl. Grinning like a small child when he played Dead Alive. Appreciating the stops, starts, and glitches that are quintessentially his human style. There’s enough music being made by machines. Sometimes it’s nice to just see a person play an instrument.
And how about that opening band, Xylouris White? It was two wild haired men thrashing out some instrumental prog rock on a drum kit and…was that a lyre? (At one point they also brought on a killer stand up bass player) I’m pretty sure they were runaway gypsies that Vile found playing in some European town, because they were far too mystical and weird for Rolling Stone to ever recommend. Though kind of a puzzling opener, it was also a welcome surprise to what could have been some bland, formulaic indie crap.
All in all, Kurt Vile was completely worth the exorbitant ticket price. I’m still starry eyed over him. I still wander around back alleys playing his albums, living that lo-fi dream Kurt Vile helped realize for so many kids. He’s still done something beautiful. In fact, he’s alright.