For Student Direct.
THE VIOLATORS back Vile (real name) tonight in a sparsely populated Deaf Institute, surprisingly so for a growing left-field angst-folk name in a growing left-field venue. Still, despite seeming slightly nerved at the echoey room, Vile holds his modest own, chatting between songs, of which are each played with Philadelphian woe and sentiment that channels the likes of his childhood influences Tom Petty and Neil Young, with a noticeable modernity and edge that can only be translated through Matador’s new-ish wonder, moody Springsteen, Kurt Vile.
And following in the footsteps of his father-label 4AD peers St Vincent and Atlas Sound, his music has been whispered about all over the likes of Pitchfork over recent months giving him the platform to showcase his distinct performance before critical ears and eyes. Granted, the small crowd at this show are listening intently and did not just stumble into the bar to see any old acoustic performance. Vile sounds like Ariel Pink in tune, and displays a stage presence that slightly awkward, his long centre-parted hair covering much of his face for much of the set. Even so, the music is inviting, consuming and quite brilliant. Vile lives up the Chinese whispers within the landfill-indie network, playing eerily, beautifully, mysteriously; at times it is hard to understand from where such intense lyrics have sprung: ‘Walk down my line, Better be sure you'll be dead,’ and ‘You gonna give me a heart attack, you gonna give me a heart attack,’ seem heavy stuff for such a sweet, chilled-out looking man. No doubt it is his darker twisted side that enabled his signing to a label renowned for its sense of rebellion (Sonic Youth are also with Matador).
Despite the bewilderment factor of his lyrics, songs ‘Heart Attack,’ ‘Blackberry Song’ and his better-known ‘Freak Train’ are very well received; the acoustics are faultless alongside Vile’s voice that echoes in one’s memory for hours afterward. Not terrible for a former forklift driver.
Julian Casablancas @ The Ritz
SHOCKINGLY, Casablancas is far from his usual brooding self on his solo tour, fresh off the back of his long-awaited debut record Phrazes For the Young, which incidentally is no longer awaited and came out two days after this show. This said, there was not a single fan in the house that wasn’t aware of the rock and roll treasure that was before them, and in all his newfound cheery solo freedom clearly remained the rough and growling leader of his band that we came to love last decade.
The success of Casablancas’ band with which he rose to musical celebrity gave footing to the excitement and anticipation of this show as well as it did to the expectation of disappointment for those waiting for number after number of Strokes classics. Those ignoramuses quickly and it seemed at times, almost gleefully, celebrated Julian’s failure to play all of Is This It, whilst truer and less hasty audience members enjoyed his divine, faultless set of new songs. ‘Ludlow St’ was the perfect nostalgia-toned track easing the sell-out crowd into a set that ended festively with Christmas songs and efficient soulful rock and roll from New York’s finest front man.
With standout performances of ‘Out of The Blue,’ River of Brakelights’ and standout single ‘11th Dimension,’ the collection of songs is a confident but steady one which manages to seize desperation, jubilation and nostalgia from track to track and project these emotions upon his steadfast fans. Not one to disappoint a single attendee, Casablancas threw in a wonderful rendition of early demo ‘I’ll Try Anything Once,’ if only to settle those angry peeps stuck way back in 2005. He pulled it off with laid-back charm and dignity, ever the true professional.