Friday, September 21, 2007

Okkervil River--Logan Square Auditorium, Chicago, IL



(This site is not exclusively an Okkervil River blog.....it just sort of seems that way right now).




For what I believe was my sixth time (and second in ten days), I took in Austin-based Okkervil River last Tuesday night at the Logan Square Auditorium. If you've never been there just picture the high school from the movie Hoosiers converted into a concert venue. I think I saw Jimmy Chitwood checking ID's. Once inside I went to the bar and noticed drummer Travis Nelsen wearing a Ride the Lightning-era Metallica t-shirt; and 83 hipsters drinking PBR. Sometimes I wonder if Pabst went out of business if hipsters would become extinct or just move along to another blue-collar beer to completely ruin. Probably the latter. This phenomenon is even more prevalent in Portland which I read spear-headed this PBR renaissance. When I was there a girl dressed me down for drinking a Bud Light. I was so taken aback that I didn't even know how to respond....the fact that Bud was cheaper seemed completely beside the point. Anyways.....


.....As I downed a PBR (hey, it was the cheapest beer there) opening act and labelmate Damien Jurado put the final touches on a rather sleepy collection of songs. Twenty minutes later the six piece Okkervil River were clad out in suits and on stage playing songs from their latest album The Stage Names. That's a great album. I seem to recall everyone getting excited during "Unless It's Kicks", which is a departure from Okkervil's earlier sound, the song is more Rolling Stones than say Jeff Mangum. Travis seemed to be hitting the drums a little harder than usual which I was pretty certain had something to do with the Metallica shirt on underneath his suit. Nothing like a little insider's info. Later they played current hit "Our Life is Not a Movie, Or Maybe" and immediately segued into "For Real"--the spooky ballad from 2005's unbelievable Black Sheep Boy. Logan Square isn't the easiest part of town to get to but I think I would have walked there just to have seen that. And before the encore, they left the stage after nearly bringing the place down with a rousing version of "John Allyn Smith Sails"--the most recent take in indie circles on the tragic life of poet John Berryman which channels the bands' inner-most Brian Wilson. They re-emerged and played a long and appreciative encore topped off with "Westfall" and that was that.

I'm really happy this band is starting to get some press beyond the run-of-the-mill indie websites that have been covering them for a couple years now. And they deserve it after touring incessantly on the strength of a large catalog of introspective and fabled songs. I like to tell people when I saw them in 2005 at Subterranean that it felt like a musical epiphany....it seemed this was the band I had been waiting for a long time. Fast-forward to today and seeing them live no longer has such a profound effect but I always leave nothing short of blown away. If they soon come to a town near you (and they probably will) do what you can and go check them out. As strongs as their albums are, their music manages to resonate even better live. Oh, and after we left I twisted my ankle when I clumsily stepped off the curb on Fullerton. I was in a lot of pain until my friend Val pulled out a PBR and poured it on my ankle. I ran the final 2.5 miles home.

4 comments:

Val said...

A few comments. This was my first venture to the Logan Square Auditorium, and, assuming they continue to host excellent acts it won't soon be my last. I really liked the airy, schoolhouse vibe. It wasn't stanky like a lot of other live music venues. Of course the usual dark and grungy goes hand in hand with rock and all, I'm just saying it was refreshingly unique.

Also refreshing was Okkervil River's enthusiastic and high-energy performance. So often with the hipster bands, the musicians are so slumpy and too cool for school, as it were. Okkervil I thought appeared to enjoy performing and reciprocated the appreciation of the audience. My friend Ariane caught their show at Champaign's Pygmalion Festival and found their performance a little affected, so maybe I'm just easy.

Lastly, things didn't pan out quite as Alex had depicted. Though he did suffer a nasty ankle injury and run 2.5 miles home, I'm pretty sure the feat was enabled by his PCP habit rather than some magic bottle of PBR. Sure, I stow a couple bottles in my purse at all times just in case, but come on, magic PBR? PCP is some nutsy stuff. An intervention may be in order.

Debbie said...

I would like to see this blog have a story about the blockbuster game for the xbox 360, Halo 3. Thank you.

Al said...

I agree with the lady above, you should make a review about the next phenomenon, Halo 3. It's going to be life changing.

Alex said...

I'm still up in the air about Logan Square Auditorium. We'll see what Matt and Kim do with that joint come Tuesday. And PCP...PBR...who cares. I made it home.

And it has come to my attention that Halo 3 was released today. The release was most celebrated by a contingency of males in their late 20s who gave up the prospect of any sort of sexual relations with women a long time ago. Congrats guys!

 
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