Friday night’s show at the Belly Up in Solana Beach sold out hours before doors opened.
While Okkervil River‘s latest album has taken some time to grow on many fans, the strength of their back catalog and live show is unquestionable. Having seen Will Sheff command an early crowd at the Coachella main stage a few years ago (as well as previous Belly Up and Casbah sets), my expectations were high. Even so, he blew them away with roaring renditions of new and old songs alike. In feisty spirits, Sheff discussed “murdering a veggie burger – well, really just giving it really low self-esteem” and his love for San Diego. He grinned while audience members sang his lyrics back at him, and it was the grin of a man who could not be happier anywhere but on that stage at that moment.
Titus Andronicus were a great fit as an opening band. They wore their New Jersey/Springsteen roots on their sleeves (and guitars), and put more energy into their live set than most other bands out there. Guitarist Amy Klein jumped in the air every chance she could get, and it’s always incredibly refreshing to experience a band that has so much fun on stage. The 6/24 show at the Belly Up goes down as the best I have seen in 2011 so far, and I already can’t wait for both bands to return to San Diego.
Photos – Okkervil River, Titus Andronicus, and New Villager at the Belly Up – June 24, 2011