Wednesday, December 28, 2016

Kurt Vile & the Violators at Terminal 5

Kurt Vile
While living in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, a 14-year-old Kurt Vile was given a banjo by his father. The youth began writing songs on his banjo, later gravitating to guitar. While making lo-fi recordings of his songs at home, Vile worked as a forklift driver from 2000 to 2002 in Boston, Massachusetts. Vile moved back to Philadelphia in 2003 and sang and played guitar in the indie rock band The War on Drugs in 2005, but left after the first album to focus on his own music. Both in the studio and during live performances, Vile now is accompanied by his backing band, the Violators, currently consisting of Jesse Trbovich (bass, guitar, saxophone), Rob Laakso (guitar, bass) and Kyle Spence (drums). Vile's sixth album, b'lieve i'm goin down..., was released on September 25, 2015.

Kurt Vile's concerts have seemed to grow mellower in recent years, but his albums have always included soft and slow songs. At tonight's concert at Terminal 5, Kurt Vile & the Violators continued a shift from guitar rocker to singer-songwriter with a guitar. Vile was a subtle personality, shying from the spotlight behind waves of long curly hair that covered his face while he played guitar. Vile's talky vocals drawled and slurred, and the band played an almost shoegazey backup for a sometimes sluggish, smoky sound, like a sleepy Tom Petty or Neil Young. Between Vile's nimble finger-picking and the sneaky, repeating  hook lines, there was always something thoroughly engaging in the music. Nevertheless, despite Vile's more prominent folkie direction, the interspersed uptempo rockers were the highlights, like the Jake Bugg and Lynyrd Skynyrd-sounding influences in "Pretty Pimpin." Perhaps Kurt Vile & the Violators could consider performing in seated theaters more than ballrooms so that fans can gain a deeper appreciation for both sides of Vile's music.

Visit Kurt Vile at

  1. Dust Bunnies
  2. I'm an Outlaw
  3. Jesus Fever
  4. That's Life, tho (almost hate to say)
  5. Goldtone
  6. Wakin on a Pretty Day
  7. Stand Inside
  8. He's Alright
  9. Girl Called Alex
  10. Pretty Pimpin
  11. Puppet to the Man
  12. KV Crimes
  13. Freak Train

  1. Wild Imagination
  2. Baby's Arms