Kurt Vile: Simple Man, Modern Rock Virtuoso

His voice was only an added instrument to the mix, never the sole focus of any songs. I believe this is what truly separates Vile from other musicians, many of whom are so focused on vocals and lyrics that the actual music is often lost and instead just swapped out for a beat.

 

The standout moment of the show was when the Violators vacated the stage, leaving Vile front and center. He performed an acoustic version of “Ghost Town,” a definite crowd pleaser, and everyone was entranced by the simple man onstage. Vile showed that you don’t need to have a big or loud personality to command a stage, if you can let the music do the talking for you.

 

Vile performed plenty of songs, most from his latest album, Bottle It In, released last October. He also played some crowd pleasers, such as “Pretty Pimpin” and “Wakin on a Pretty Day.” The set featured 17 songs, including the track he performed with opening band, the Sadies.

 

The crowd was sucked into Vile’s world that evening. The whole venue was constantly head-nodding to the music as they watched him on stage. The audience was in close quarters, but no one ever seemed to mind it. Everyone was relaxed and clearly there to listen.

 

The show came to an end after a three-song encore, and Vile quickly said into the microphone, “Thanks so much guys, take it easy,” before he and the rest of the band walked off stage. He left the crowd roaring in applause.

 

Kurt Vile is exactly what you would expect after listening to his various albums: a man there for music and there to perform it. This concert, with its relaxed vibe, no doubt left everyone in attendance begging for more.

StoryMadisyn Siebert  Photos • Cory Weaver

On the same Sunday that marked the 91st Academy Awards ceremony, a dedicated and select group of music fans opted out of sitting on their couches and instead hit the Pageant to see Kurt Vile and the Violators on their “Bottle It In” tour. The Pageant itself was cozy with a closed balcony, always making for a more intimate show.

 

The best way to describe this show would be low-key. It was clear from the moment Vile took the stage that he was there to do one thing—play his songs. He sported a simple outfit of jeans, a plaid shirt and a basic pair of brown leather boots—and his signature long hair, which was constantly falling in his face. To put it simply, he is not a flashy guy, and this was evident by the bare stage and how he performed. He moved to and fro from the microphone to only sing his parts and then backed away to focus on the guitar in his hands.

 

Vile’s guitar skills are the basis of the whole show, and he makes the instrument—usually guitar, but sometimes banjo—the center of the song. It’s almost like he tries to remove himself from the equation. The lights changed with the distinction of how he played the instrument, which made the final call on how the room vibed—whether it was more rock or more relaxed. His focus was on his guitar, his head down, concentrating on the strings and where he laid his fingers.

 

He left little time between songs and was constantly switching from acoustic guitar, to electric guitar, to banjo. During these transitions he would often make little quips and noises to get the crowd excited for the next song, barely inserting any words, and when he did speak it was usually to thank the crowd for their support. He sometimes even sang his words of thanks instead.

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All Photos © Cory Weaver/CMW PhotographyBands Through Town • Unless noted