BECAUSE YOU MISSED IT: Kurt Vile, Sound checks, and Encores!

Pictured above: Kurt Vile and the Violators bring the harshest mild.

My brain is scattered, but probably not for the mind-altering way that I should report post show. Nope, I have that old man malaise, the sort where a dad rolled a little too deep on a work night and is paying his penance in coffee the day after. And boy did I feel like a dad at this show, where the median age was somewhere in the realm of who-the-fuck-are-these-people, which is my general position at most shows anymore before I realize that I’m the odd man out, Pee Paw Syd hover-rounding in to watch the children get rowdy. I think they were rowdy. This was the mildest rowdy show in the world, but more on that in a moment.

The pre-game show was held at the Hilltop Tavern, where I had beer, burgers (well, burger singular), and brownies (again, brownie singular). When they brought the brownie out the people that I was dining with treated me like the hero that I am for ordering a dessert at a bar. Because no fucks are given to my waist line. Who give a shit anyhow? Apparently everyone at the Kurt Vile show, given how everyone poured into their skinny jeans and such, or at least how my metabolism went into early retirement post-30. I guess I don’t blame it. Not here to shame anyone for their body size either, because if you’ve got it rock it, but it definitely made me feel like a turd in a punch bowl, although that’s not exactly a rare position for me at any show.

Per usual parking was a hassle at the show, but that’s more on me than anyone else. I should’ve known better than to stroll in towards the last minute; this isn’t my first rodeo after all. All of my technological anxieties were realized upon entry when it was determined that I was supposed to have printed the ticket out that I bought on line. Fuck everything. Am I going to get in or not? Fortunately, I was given a terse lecture about printing things, but then let in. Aye aye, captain.

Pictured above: Blouse Rock.

Xylouris White went on pretty much immediately upon entry. They were everything I didn’t want to hear at that particular moment in time, although that’s not to say that the talent wasn’t there. From my limited understanding of “world music,” they kind of sounded like the mellow chanting parts of Om mixed with the Dirty Three, which is to say kind of sloppy in a drunken way, and ethnic in some vague way that makes me feel like a cultural tourist. Not that this is about my feelings and nor should it be. I just have very little frame of reference. Ironic then that I was partially right.

What I didn’t realize at first was that the White part of that band name is the one and only Jim White from (drum roll) the Dirty Three, which I promise I did not know before hand. He looked like a lecherous uncle, which I think makes sense for anyone that’s rolled hard with Warren Ellis and Nick Cave. Of course, before I had that realization, I referred to him only as “Blouse Homie,” because he had a fancy shirt on with the top couple of buttons down. Because sex. And he had a stain on it, a big red stain, so I made up this back story about how the duo had definitely had Italian before the set, and that that was definitely some dried Ragu. I don’t know if any of that is true, but in my heart it is. They were fun in a way that I hadn’t expected. Seeing Jim White at work was a treat too.

Then began the long wait while ten thousand guitars were tuned over top of random dub music. Headliners has a history of blasting loud music in between sets, which not only breaks a rule of scene etiquette, but defies logic. What exactly is the psychological purpose here? Shouldn’t folks want to talk between sets? Maybe they can get that all out then instead of during the quieter moments of the band they went to see, which is more often than not the case. I can’t say if that’s unique to Louisville or not, but it has certainly been my experience for the better part of my adult life. Shut the fuck up already. You paid good cash to see this show and you’re just running your mouth over it. Get over it.

Kurt Vile and the Violators went on stage around 10:30, which was about what I expected. Despite having to wait for about 40 minutes while a guitar tech sound checked every piece of equipment, which I would have assumed had happened earlier that day, we still had to endure even more tuning. In between every song. Every song. On top of that, the Violators switched instruments constantly and often for what seemed to be no reason. Can’t we just agree that one of you plays the bass for the duration of the show? I’m sure that you are both very good at it, but for the sake of continuity it may help things flow a bit smoother.

Pictured above: Sponsored by Pantene.

The set was fine. It didn’t blow my mind, but then I didn’t really expect that. Vile has an easy charm, but he doesn’t have that kind of fire charisma that makes for anything other than a fun way to spend a date. That isn’t good or bad, it just is what it is. His music certainly holds the test of time and while I have reservations about the need for constant instrument switching (he literally swapped out one guitar for an identical guitar mid-set), I appreciate that kind of commitment to following your muse no matter how that is made manifest.

There were plenty of classic rock tropes. Picks were used with a cavalier nature. Kicks were made at moments meant to inspire. Midway through the set there was the quiet song intermission, ostensibly meant to give your ears a break from the noise, but serving here to underscore the droning bass hum of the sound and tinny treble emphasis on the guitar (every guitar) on stage, not to mention the crowd chatter from people too lax to be burdened by paying attention to the music that they paid to see. But I digress.

Of course, Vile ended with perhaps the biggest rock n’ roll trope ever, the hated encore. To be fair, encores are primarily a hatred of mine, in that they seem like egotistical masturbation. The fact that your guitar tech seemed prepare to hand this or that guitar over between songs only furthers my belief that it’s all part of the ego play: this was pre-meditated and perhaps more than a little based on tradition rather than being earned. For my money, if you know you want to play this or that song, just fucking do it. Don’t hoard your top tracks for some whatever applause is requisite for you to come back out and play it. It just seems a little pretentious and more than a little anachronistic in 2016 to bother with that foolishness. But then, maybe I’m just the curmudgeon that this review certainly implies. Only time will tell.