Wednesday, September 05, 2007

Monday Recap: Okkervil River & Damien Jurado

I hate posting about something two days after it happened, but between my interview yesterday, time with my family (no internet) and having a major allergy attack that felt like someone kicked me in the back of the head 15 times, I was not in the mood to internet much yesterday. And now I'm sick and I don't understand why.

I did go to the Casbah show on Monday and it was a great night. I had purchased a ticket ages ago, specifically for Damien Jurado and it was only later that I realized the strengths of Okkervil River.

Damien Jurado is a musician from Seattle. He's on the Secretly Canadian label, which is another of those labels that will never steer you wrong. I've been a fan of Damien's for some time now, since 2003's "Where Shall You Take Me?", the follow up in '04 of "On My Way To Absence" and last year's "And Now That I'm In Your Shadow", not to mention the ep's released in between. Damien's powerful voice is usually backed by a band, but he joked that they were "cheapskates" and wouldn't be meeting him on tour until S.F.
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Being a fan for a while, I've seen him several times in the past, both solo and with the band and this time around was as good as any, though he had to compete with the fan by the stage that had a constant hum while he played. He kept apologizing to the crowd and talked about his rough day in San Diego, having to haggle with the people at Alamo. The guy looked like he could use a hug, frankly, and somehow that feeling made his already melancholy music feel even heavier, even more cathartic for him to sing and for the crowd to be there along with him.

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As it often is, there were people at the bar chatting, and as Damien played louder, that seemed to be their cue to talk louder over the music. Damien paid no mind, but I would've liked to share some choice words with them. It is so easy to go outside to talk. Why do people insist on doing it during performances?

After Damien finished, I chatted with some friends outside for a bit then headed toward the front with Natalie in hopes of getting a couple good snapshots. It seemed like a really long time before Okkervil River hit the stage because the room was insanely hot and full with the sell out crowd.

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I lasted only a couple songs up there, then moved and realized that really loud fan? Well, it actually works! I found a nice spot on the side of the stage where I could enjoy the show and actually breathe. I was quite happy about that. This was my first time seeing Okkervil River and as I watched, I couldn't put a finger on what this was making me think of...then I realized that there is a quality to the music that reminds me a lot of Rhett Miller from the Old 97's. Vocally they are definitely different, but the composition of the songs, and there's a way the emphasis on the syllables that one wouldn't think should be emphasized that makes them stand out as great songwriters. There were even moments when Sheff moved kinda like Rhett, though with less booty shaking.

I definitely loved this show. The band had 6 guys, and aside from Sheff sticking to vox and guitar and the drummer sticking to his thing, the other guys mixed up keys, guitars, mandolin, trumpet, maracas, accordion, lap steel, and other instruments that made the music feel really alive.

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I grabbed the setlist after the show, but it was on a tiny piece of paper, so here's the Okkervil River Setlist and the adjacent translation (as best I could decifer):

1. King and a Queen
2. Song About a Star
3. A Hand To Take Hold of the Scene
4. No Key, No Plan
5. Latest Toughs
6. Red
7. Plus Ones
8. You Can't Hold the Hand of a Rock n Roll Man
9. Unless It Kicks
10. Black
11. A Girl In Port
12. Our Life is Not a Movie or Maybe
13. For Real
14. Westfall
(encore according to Natalie- not listed):
John Allyn Smith Sails (Sloop John B)

It was a great night at the Casbah, but it was a non-drinking night for me and as soon as the show ended I was out the door to get some sleep before my interview and all the stuff I had to do before the interview. Unfortunately I tossed and turned until 5 am, so maybe I should've just hung out after all. Ah well, it's a beautiful day in SD today and life is back to normal. I'm listening to a whole bunch of new music today so I'll make some recommendations at some later point this week.

1 comment:

Natalie said...

Technically "Sloop John B" is part of "John Allyn Smith Sails." There were two, maybe three other songs in the encore but I don't remember what they were. And I think the second song might have been "The Stage Names" - they definitely played that one, but then again maybe it was in the encore. My brain was fried from the heat at that point...