By Michael Zonenashvili
When a band puts more than 3 or more guitars on stage, something’s bound to get distorted and weird. However, two bands at London’s Koko proved that a good mix of guitars making layered notes and riffing can be surprisingly euphonious. With the washed out surf-rock of New Jersey’s Real Estate and the bright sounds from Kurt Vile (And his Violaters) the crowd may not have moved or sang along much, but damn were they impressed.
Real Estate took the stage first, having only a thirty minute set listed on the schedule. Thankfully, this changed because after thirty minutes they kept going. The band came on and things became dream-poppy in an instant. “Green Aisles” was particularly relaxing as it juxtaposed all the people rushing from the bar to claim their space on the floor. Real Estate continued through their set with cuts from Days including the song that got people to at least bop up and down, “It’s Real.” Hell, Real Estate is from the town that has a football rivalry with mine, and I was even excited when the tune started.
What might be a problem with their set to other people was fine with me, the songs flowed perfectly into each other, when people asked their neighbour what song they were playing at the moment, they gave up caring after a minute of being sucked into the tunes. We were treated to one new song and then it was time for Kurt Vile.
Let’s get the one thing that’s in every Kurt Vile review out of the way, he has nice hair. You could see it shine from the back of the venue, and even his bandmates try to follow suit. More importantly, he makes nice music that is equally as pleasing live, if not more. In fact, his vocals had a bit more oomph to them live, songs like Jesus Fever having a bit more of a discernible melody that the audience caught onto.
Between songs it was interesting to watch Kurt spend time down tuning and upturning his guitar to the strangest of tunings. Musicians like him who tune to the craziest of patterns always remind me of the complexity of their recordings and the pristine musical minds they have. Kurt Vile happens to be one of those minds, looking at his solo work and with The War On Drugs it’s plain to see that he has an amazing understanding of how to layer various notes and sounds into a sonically pleasing structure. Even when melding acoustic and electric elements, and especially when translating this into the live show.
Kurt Vile plowed through the set with ease and his long haired swagger, playing everything necessary, and giving the audience a chance to see only him on stage to songs like “Baby’s Arms.” By the end of the set, the audience had experienced a well embraced Lullaby, ready to return to work the next day, but probably singing one of his tunes on the way.