Friday, August 6, 2010

Concert review: Kurt Vile, Real Estate, Karl Hendricks Trio

Kurt Vile, Real Estate, Karl Hendricks Trio
Tuesday July 13, 2010 at Garfield Artworks
with Leigh, Chris L.

Word to the wise: do not go to Garfield Artworks in July. This show was quite possibly the hottest, humidest, sweat-dripping-down-your-face-and-fully-soaking-your-shirt-all-the-way-thru-and-not-even-being-helped-when-you-go-stand-outside-in-the-rain-between-sets ... -iest of shows I've ever been to. There was a fan onstage and another one near the entrance, plus a couple small ones on the ceiling, but they didn't seem to have any effect.

We showed up in time to catch three songs or so from local long-time indie scene rockers The Karl Hendricks Trio. I've seen a slew of their CDs in the racks at the Carnegie Library and have somehow never taken one out even the name and artwork always stand out to me, as if to say, "Why aren't you listening to me?" For some reason the name seemed familiar, but that may just be from flipping thru the racks so frequently, or maybe it's because they're on the Merge Records roster which is only so big and includes some high-profile names, as well. In any event, they played a series of upbeat rockers with lots of hooky guitar riffs and heavy bass lines and the guys bounced around the tiny stage, truly enjoying their playing. I couldn't make out lyrics that well, but overall they had a solid 90s indie guitar rock/punk sound vibe going on that worked pretty well in the live setting but seems a bit too "samey" (i.e. homogeneous) for me to really listen to outside of that.

Real Estate took the stage next, after pretty much everyone in the room went outside to stand on the sidewalk or walk around in the rain, or just about anything to cool off. I found their music notably more enjoyable than the last time I saw them, even despite the hot venue and the completely crowded room. This may have been the largest crowd I've seen at the Artworks, and it even seemed like a large portion of the concertgoers were purely there for Real Estate given that a bunch of them left after their set. They played a bunch of songs of their self-titled debut LP plus a song or two from one of their member's side project, Ducktails (they may or may not have played a song from another side project, but I can't say for sure). Their sound is actually pretty accurately described by some of their song titles and the fact that they're from suburban New Jersey; in fact, two songs on their album have the word "suburban" in the name. The whole "surfedelia" (if I may coin a phrase) movement is super popular in the indie music world currently, and they fit right in with that. If you like jangly guitar solos and hipstery head-bobbing, this is right up your alley. But seriously, the instrumental parts are really quite good; it's not necessarily something I'll listen to a year from now (except for maybe "Beachcombers") but at the moment it's totally enjoyable. One memorable moment was when the singer/lead guitarist broke a string and had to change it right there. The bassist filled the time by telling a long and convoluted joke that was quite possibly the longest excuse of a set up to make a wholly groan-worthy pun. Needless to say, I thought it was great.

Finally, the man I was there to see, Kurt Vile, took to the stage with a backup guitarist and a drummer, a.k.a. The Violators (get it?). A big part of what I like about his music is the diversity of song style and structure. I just find it amazing that someone can play a sweet, introspective acoustic song like "I Got Religion", as well as a freak-rock wild ride of a song like "Freak Train". Basically, it seems like Kurt is a really interesting dude who writes great songs, and that's that. I liked the way that he shot back at the sound guy when the other guitarist was tuning up: "Hey, give the guy a minute, Maaaaaaaannnnnnyyyy." He also kept his extremely long hair flowing right down over his face for the whole set which only added to his mysterious aura. There was a female on the other side of the room who kept requesting the song "Heart Attack" and he said, "Maybe later" but never played it. Sad face for her. The crowd was a little thinner, but it meant I could stand up near the front of the stage. This gave me a good view of the harpist (!?) they had onstage to play in a couple songs. Overall, it felt like a short set and there was plenty of chatter and whooping from the crowd trying to interact with Kurt himself, which always seems silly and self-indulgent to me and only interrupts the flow of the show, but anyway, that was that. I thought it was a good collection of songs from his catalog. I would have liked to see more, particularly some of the quieter numbers, but he had The Violators in tow so they stuck mostly to the stompin' rockers which are also good. I strongly recommend listening to his albums; they're just perfect arrangements of a bunch of good songs. What else could you ask for?

Karl Hendricks Trio:
no live videos found !?

Real Estate:
"All Out of Tune" live @ Primavera Festival
"Fake Blues" live @ Primavera Festival

Kurt Vile:
Two acoustic songs, part of the Fader "Open Bar" web series
Compare: "Hunchback" acoustic, live on Q TV, versus "Hunchback" plugged in, live @ Mercury Lounge, NYC with The Violators. How can they both be so fucking good?

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