Thursday, August 11, 2011

Kurt Vile - Woods - White Fence - True Widow -- Rock'n'Roll Hotel - Aug 10 2011

True Widow - We start things off at 7:20pm with this Texas trio. Only 20 people are here at the start, but it more than doubles by the time the band finishes its half-hour set. This is even a bit early for me, but they have four bands for this Wednesday night. This band instantly sounds like the Melvins covering Dead Meadow. There is not much variance beyond that as the set continues, but that is perfectly acceptable to me. They deliver a great thick droning sound with some interesting melodic moves. The vocals have that introspective psyche-feel. I think they could continue to work on the integration of the two voices used tonight. Room to maneuver perhaps, but a really nice set as it is.

White Fence - This twin-guitar four-piece hits the stage running with an opener that has powerful jangly fuzzy guitars atop a solid rock foundation. The hooks were classic and the vocals were solid. The third song went in a spacier direction but with plenty of drive similar to the Wipers "D-7". Maybe it's closer to "Youth of America" as covered by the Black Angels. Although from California, I detect Texas psyche stylings like that of the Golden Dawn (a rather forgotten band as good as the 13th Floor Elevators). A few songs settled into a simple comfort zone, but there were more than enough that had me fully absorbed. They closed with another powerhouse showing me that they have a good understanding of their best material. That usually means more good things are coming. I look forward to it as this band really pushed all the right buttons during their 40 minute set. Fun, fun, fun.

Woods - This is a five-piece I believe, as I am having trouble seeing now as the club is pretty well jammed up as I expected. They have a couple guitars and some electronica and the usual rhythm section. One guitarist is singing with a really high voice. My first thoughts are that they are Vetiver trying to write Brian Wilson songs. Then just as I am thinking how I might lump them in the Maps & Atlases/Band of Horses category or come up with a stupid analogy with a couple of my favorite bands like 'I can't see the Woods but for the Forest and the Trees'; I then get tossed one of the biggest curveballs I have seen. They start adding electronica, which usually I would label and detraction, but it works magnificently here. Then, they bring in more jamming psychedelic guitars and start doing all kinds of wild songs that remind me of early Brian Eno, Wooden Shjips, and all kinds of great psyche rockers. They added some more of their soft rock songs in the set, but they really mixed things up well and it really came together. Fascinating effort and approach and it was nice to see it work so well in a long set (50 minutes). In fact, a longer set allowed it to work better, so I am happy this show started early and allowed this band (and all bands) to bring out their full bag of tricks and not have to cram in a few songs to fit a tight schedule. But as for Woods? Rarely have I turned the corner from unbeliever to serious fan so sharply during one set. Great job.

Kurt Vile & the Violators - Third time in three years for me. I was wondering when all the press attention and (more importantly) quality music would lead to larger shows. Well tonight was a step up, and although the three opening bands were worth the price of admission, the full house was treated to an excellent Vile set. As I have said before, Vile and his band can really cook up some psychedelic-folk-rock sounds. Vile's songs have good depth to them as well and work out extremely well as either solo acoustic numbers or full blown electric rockers. And he and the band did both tonight. If the Meat Puppets tried to shoot for the Pearls Before Swine type song, it may sound like this (or perhaps it is the hair style here that has me thinking Meat Puppets). I will even forgive Vile the theft of Bowie's "Rebel Rebel" on one song where I just couldn't stop my brain from singing along with the Bowie lyrics. I don't think I would have missed the connection, but having finished Paul Trynka's Bowie biography and in the late part of Tony Visconti's autobiography, I have Bowie on the brain. I still rate Vile as a very good songwriter and his music is a fine continuation on that path that Dylan (and others) began blazing years ago taking folk and rock into a scenic direction forward. I almost did not go to this show as I thought I may have seen enough of Vile recently. Not so, I will be back riding the "Freak Train" again if possible and it will probably be on an even bigger stage.

Quote of the Night: Vile, after delivering a semi-audible con-job story: "... Psyche!"  Psyche, indeed.

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