Muruch’s L.A. reviewer Laura Foxworthy joined the crowd at The Wiltern last Thursday night for a live performance by Okkervil River. You can read Laura’s review of the concert and download a free, legal mp3 from Okkervil River’s new album, I Am Very Far, below…
There are two kinds of concerts that I love most. The first is a live performance by a favorite band/artist whose songs I know by heart. The kind of experience that feels like an evening spent with a best friend, or true love, having one of those long, meandering conversations that lasts into the wee hours, where everything makes sense, and you feel completely understood and engaged.
The second kind involves being semi-introduced to a band/artist that I may have heard a song or two from before, or spun one of their albums a few times – familiar enough with their music to be intrigued and interested in hearing more, but not yet tied by my musical heartstrings to them. Those concerts carry all the trepidation, uncertainty and curious excitement of a first date. I feel engaged, because I want to know more, but also cautious. I am there to learn and see how it goes.
Thursday night, at the Wiltern, Okkervil River and I were on a first date, and I dare say it went pretty well.
To begin, the setting was well-chosen. Classy, with the ambiance of intimacy, yet spacious enough to provide tremendous acoustics and a sense of community (crowd) support. The Wiltern is reminiscent of old Hollywood movie theaters, almost too beautiful for a concert venue, but it somehow manages to transcend into the now. It has been, and always will be, one of my favorite places to hear a band (honestly, I am not over-exaggerating when I say “tremendous acoustics”).
Will Shelf was quite the musical companion. Quirky and slightly off-key, his vocal delivery is a type of flawed perfection – a quality that most often draws me to other people.
He was at his most memorable during “John Allyn Smith Sails and A Stone,”
alone on the stage with only his guitar, singing lonely into the night. The intimacy of his songs completely moved me, made me want to hear more, to hope for a second date.
“Wake and Be Fine” was the song I was most familiar with, one that I had listened to and enjoyed more than a few times before. Live took it to a new level for me, grabbing hold and waking me up with its hard-not-to-move beats.
“Our Life Is Not A Movie Or Maybe” was the song that immediately made me smile. Shelf’s delivery just exuded joy. He seemed to be having just as much fun as those of us in the audience, if not more.
Last, but certainly not least, another favorite moment was at the end of this musical date. The encore, a shattering and energetic rendition of “Unless It Kicks,” was a powerful kiss goodnight. This was the kind of song that you feel everywhere, the kind of song that you hear in your head for the remainder of the night, and find still lingering with you the next morning.
I left hoping the band would call me in the next day, and that we would see each other again.
The next morning I threw on their newest album, I Am Very Far – very loudly – while I put on a pot of coffee and reflected on the night before. I guess that means I am the one who did the calling.