photos by Ryan Barkan, words by Andrew Sacher
Kurt Vile at Central Park - 6/16/12
Kurt Vile has been on a tour which recently hit Sasquatch, Bonnaroo, and then came to the NYC area for two shows this past weekend, Kurt's last scheduled North American dates before he heads to Europe this week. He first stopped in Hoboken, NJ for an intimate, sold out early show at Maxwell's on Friday (6/15). The next day (6/16), Kurt came to Central Park Summerstage for a free show with Dawes.
I caught Kurt at Summerstage, where he and the Violators played an hour long set to an eager crowd that went from casually lounging on the outdoor venue's artificial turf to packing in right up to the stage the second Kurt and his band walked out. Though Kurt has seen increased success due to 2011's Smoke Ring For My Halo, which was one of our favorites of the year, he doesn't ignore his older material, splitting the set pretty evenly between Smoke Ring and 2009's Childish Prodigy.
The natural earthiness that fills Kurt Vile's songs always him a great artist to see outside, and Saturday evening was no exception. Taking the sun-drenched stage around 7 PM, Kurt and his band breezed through songs like "On Tour" and "Jesus Fever" with the same sort of celebrated laziness anyone hanging in Central Park on a sunny Saturday afternoon/evening would ask for. Kurt's effortless drawl traveled through the crowd as he rotated between shiny finger picking and meandering guitar solos. The band did get rougher around the edges at times, with Kurt's periodical screams, crunchy drum machines, and the occasional guitar flailing from Kurt's fellow long-haired comrade.
Towards the end of the set, the band left the stage for Kurt to play two solo acoustic cuts -- "Blackberry Song" and "Peeping Tomboy" -- which he delivered in that mesmerizing folk singer kind of way where the crowd remains as quiet and captivated as the songs command. Then the band returned to close out their set with the largely contrasting "Freak Train," which kicked off with a double time drum machine and ended with all three guitarists on the floor creating layers upon layers of noise with their foot pedals as the drummer thrashed along to that never-ending loop.
More pictures and some videos from Kurt's set at Summerstage are below...
Kurt Vile - "On Tour" at Central Park 6/16/12
Kurt Vile - "Jesus Fever" (clip) at Central Park 6/16/12