Some artists' music just makes more sense during certain times of the year. There are obvious seasonal and regional artists, albums, and genres. Artists like The Band, albums like Bon Iver's For Emma, Forever Ago, and genres like folk-rock and country can all capture the sounds and feels of the Fall. I'm sure in your head right now; you have an artist or an album that takes you back to a specific time in your life and evokes memories.
Kurt Vile, to me, is one of those artists that really captures a time, a season, and a vibe of a period in my life. Vile coming from Philadelphia, there is a certain kinship that a city like Cincinnati shares with Philly. A working-class town whose people are unabashedly proud of where they come from.
Vile's music, specifically his 2013 album Wakin On A Pretty Daze, always brings me back to when I first moved to Cincinnati in the Fall of 2018. For whatever reason, I revisited that album at that time and played it on repeat as I began to introduce myself to this new city. That album has this meandering peacefulness where you can get lost in Vile's lyrics' storytelling and humor. You can also really enjoy the hazed-out instrumentation that harkens back to Neil Young's 70's work, the catchy slacker vibes of Pavement's, Crooked Rain, and the twangy odes to country artists like John Prine.
His music is meant to be spent walking around on a beautiful Fall day and getting lost in a city. Sunday was the absolute perfect day for that. With the city of Cincinnati finishing off another incredible Blink, there seemed to be this solid communal feeling flourishing throughout the city. With astonishing artwork on every wall, alley, and building between Covington, Downtown, and OTR, one could find themselves getting lost for hours appreciating the art and the city of Cincinnati. Similarly to the album cover of Wakin On A Pretty Daze, Vile seems to be in contemplation as he walks through Fishtown in Philly by a wall of graffiti and artwork bearing his name.
Sunday evening, Vile and the Violaters brought that unique sound to The Andrew J Brady Music Center at the Banks. The stage was sparse with flair and grandeur as he was simply backed by a banner that dropped down reading Kurt Vile, with stars, a cartoon alligator wearing a trucker hat, and a cartoon version of him. The feeling almost created this 70's rock concert aesthetic, something like Neil Young's Time Fades Away or Tonight's The Night.
Vile kicked off the show with one of his new tunes, "Palace of OKV in Reverse," off of his 2022 record (watch my moves). The new album seems to be a collection of pandemic-era material that is warm and intimate. A look into the domestic side of the indie rocker and his comfort growing as an indie troubadour.
The next few songs were some personal favorites, from Vile's 2018 record Bottle It In, "Loading Zones," and "Bassackwards." Vile continued to play a fairly even spread of new and old material featuring tunes from even Smoke Rings for My Halo, Vile's critical hit in 2011.
As the show continued, Vile began to flex his guitar playing, and for fans of 90's indie rock and Neil Young's Crazy Horse sound, you were in heaven. His ability to almost will the sound out of his guitar creates this workman-like rock. Vile isn't a guitar virtuoso by any means, but he comes from a line of guitarists that have this clear admiration for classic rock and the everyman's guitarist. Artists like Stephen Malkmus, David Berman from Silver Jews, Guided By Voices, and Songs: Ohia all share those traits.
This show's highlight came when Vile broke into "Wakin' on a Pretty Day" the song featured some of Vile and the Violater's best jamming, transitioning to "Pretty Pimpin," off of their 2015 record b'lieve i'm going down.
Vile finished the evening with a cover of Silver Jew's "Punks in the Beerlight." A perfect way to end the show and an incredible weekend in Cincinnati. After the show, I knew I'd be listening to Vile for the rest of the Fall as he continues to create a great Fall soundtrack.