Oh, Kurt Vile. If you read Look at me, I made a blog, follow me on Twitter, or have interacted with me in real life, then it's no surprise to you that I went to his show at Mercury Lounge. Even he knows I'm a big fan. I'd only seen Kurt play with the Violators at showcases like the Northside Festival and Woodsist Festival, so this was the first time I'd seen him as a headliner.
Although I thought it wouldn't, the show did indeed sell out. I even heard that one desperate fan sneaked in through the backdoor. During the break before KV and the Violators went onstage, the house DJ appropriately spun Sonic Youth, fellow Matador labelmates. When I peeked at the setlist on the floor, I was ecstatic to see some solo numbers. Kurt opened the night with two solos that haven't appeared on any record, to my knowledge. I recognized "Peeping Tomboy" from one of the Ray Concepcion videos from Kurt Vile's last Silent Barn show, which I've posted below. If I had any doubt that Kurt Vile has any more good material left in him after this new album, "Peeping Tomboy" puts my worries to rest. It's true that Kurt has released three records in the last year and a half or so, and that material spans 2000 to the present day. But, it seems like there some more songs left in him.
With the October 6th release of Childish Prodigy, it was no surprise that Kurt Vile and the Violators mostly performed songs from that album. The epic "Freak Train" is a personal favorite of mine, both live and on the record, and I would have gladly listened to an extended version of the song. Although the new album was the focus of the show, he performed a couple of songs off Constant Hitmaker, and they were given the Violators treatment. While purists would complain about the transformation of "Don't Get Cute" from a soft bedroom recording into an electric rocker, I have to say that it sounded pretty damn good. Of course, KV and the Violators tackled "Freeway," the song that Kurt once referred to as their Billboard chart hit, "right above 'Like a Rolling Stone.'" By far, the live version of "Freeway" is my favorite, mostly due to J Turbo's added harmonica part. My only complaint is that as the night went on, Kurt's vocals were drowned out by the three guitars onstage. I'm not sure if that was due to where I was standing, but I could always use more of Kurt's speak-sing.
No "My Sympathy" this night, but Kurt said he would definitely play it at his next NYC show. I hope he also plays other favorites like "Blackberry Song" and "Amplifier," both from Childish Prodigy. I guess we will just have to wait and see.
Childish Prodigy is out now. Buy it here. There were also copies of God Is Saying This To You... at the show, but they sold out pretty quickly.
Classic Kurt Vile pose
J Turbo, man of many talents
The planned setlist. Actual is below
Come On It (solo)
Peeping Tomboy (solo)
Don't Get Cute
Inside Lookin' Out (aka "Kraut")
He's Alright (w/ J Turbo)
Freak Train - Kurt Vile
Everyone is Talkin' - Kurt Vile (An oldie from the Accidents EP)