Kurt Vile and the Violators played for a packed house at the Casbah last Friday. The frontman proved he was much more than a giant ball of hair, showing off his strongest album to date to the entranced crowd.
Vile opened up with the pounding, upbeat title track from his most complex album yet, Wakin on a Pretty Daze, which was released earlier last week. The layering and instrumentation give the entire album much more depth than Smoke Ring For My Halo while still maintaining an emphasis on standout lyrics and songwriting.
When Vile began playing, it was clear that his guitar work has also grown greatly since his earlier efforts. The extended solos on Pretty Day showed that he is returning to the guitar-driven rock that characterized his earlier work. Still, it was nice to see Vile switch so frequently between electric and acoustic during his set and not shy away from the quieter, crooning tracks from Smoke Ring.
Vile’s songwriting talent wouldn’t have been nearly as impactful if it weren’t for the greatness of The Violators, his backing band. You know that really badass drummer who plays everything too loud with an angry look on his face? The Violators’ drummer makes that guy look like a middle school xylophone player.
While it would’ve been nice to hear some of Vile’s earlier work — he only played songs off his latest two albums — it’s hard to deny that he played his strongest material. His songwriting appears to be maturing at a rapid pace with no sign of slowing, and thankfully none of the success seems to be going to his head. He put on a kick-ass show full of intelligently written songs while remaining free of pretention — and that’s a rare feat.
Openers The Shine Brothers blew away the handful of people there in time to see them. Playing cocky, synth-driven rock layered with harmonized vocals, the supergroup (Black Angels, Spindrift, The Morlocks) won the crowd over quickly with its fuzzed-out animosity and technical prowess. The two alternating front men worked well with the diversity of their set, and the drummer’s energy and raw power were impressive. It should also be noted that their keyboard player is the spitting image of Bob Ross — afro and all — so that helped too.