Wednesday, March 23, 2005

Okkervil River (again)....

I just love these guys and I saw them with the Decemberists last night. Great show, in fact I don't think I've enjoyed a show so much in a while. Black Sheep Boy, the new one from Okkervil River, comes out April 5th and is not to be missed. Seriously, here are a few thoughts on last night show:

So last night I went to see a show. One band I really wanted to see. The other band I had long ago decided was an overhyped exercise in self-indulgence. Playing at San Francisco's Bimbos 365 Club (which often makes you feel like you've stepped through a trap door in time and ended up watching a rock show in the ballroom of that creepy hotel in The Shining) were The Decemberists and Okkervil River. I was very much looking forward to seeing Okkervil, their unreleased album Black Sheep Boy is all that can be right with indie-rock: heartfelt, sincere, passionate, melodic, odd. I had high expectations for how they would reinterpret these songs in a live setting. I wasn't disappointed. Will Sheff and crew turned even their most maudlin moments on album into wide open sonic revelry. The band clearly loved their music and threw themselves into it with abandon. Their excellence forced me to buy a T-Shirt, the last time I did that was when I saw Whiskeytown in 1996(?).

For The Decemberists my plan was to cross my arms and stand in the back of the room with an stoic smirk passing judgement on each song that featured a sailor or a whale. I would be a mad king handing down execution sentences to random members of my court. I was determined to not enjoy Colin Meloy, determined to make my accusations of swarmy holier than thou over-rated indie rock songwriter du jour stick. By the third song I was tapping my fucking foot! Then my wife leans over and whispers in my ear, "These guys sound like a cross between Supertramp and They Might Be Giants". I guess that innocent observation from someone untainted by listening to hundreds of CDs composed entirely by some kid from (enter hip town of the moment) who has been proclaimed to be the second coming of (pick one: Dylan, Gram Parsons, Townes Van Zandt, Springsteen) flipped a switched inside my stoney critics heart. Meloy was enjoying the show. He was smart and funny. He clearly had a kinship with his fans and was flattered by their attention. All of his semi-gothic tales of maritime excess or piracy on the high seas or broken hearts weren't delivered with a smirk but with a heartfelt love for the characters he had created. The band was uniformly excellent, laughing, playing with swagger.

It's been a really long time since a band won me over, forced me to rethink my critical opinion (something I fear I'm less and less willing to do as I get older, gotta keep that in check), and generally charmed my socks off. Good on you, Colin.

2 Songs from Black Sheep Boy:

For Real



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