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Okkervil River’s three-night run of ‘Black Sheep Boy’ at Bowery Ballroom is underway, wrapping up tonight (night 2 pics)

photos by Amanda Hatfield, words by Andrew Sacher

Okkervil River

Okkervil River are celebrating the 10th anniversary of their best album Black Sheep Boy with a reissue (due 12/4 via Jagjaguwar) and a tour that has them playing the album in full. They’re currently in the midst of a three-night run at NYC’s Bowery Ballroom that wraps up tonight (11/23). We caught last night’s show.

Will Sheff opened with a few solo acoustic versions of songs that came out before Black Sheep Boy and talked a bit about their early days, and then the rest of the band came out to perform the album front to back. These shows were already going to be special, but it got even more special when Black Sheep Boy era member (and Shearwater frontman) Jonathan Meiburg joined them on “Black” and stayed for the rest of the set. Plus for the next song (“Get Big”), Will’s girlfriend and frequent collaborator Beth Wawerna of Bird of Youth joined them on harmonies and stayed for several others too. They played the album exactly the way you’d want to hear it, with all the beauty and raggedy edges it has on record. Nostalgia for this type of thing has been hitting pretty hard lately (or hitting me, at least). Enough time has passed and “indie” has gone through enough changes that I kinda miss the era when that genre was often associated music that’s a little folky but rooted in punk’s energy, and fleshed out by unconventional (for rock) instrumentation. Black Sheep Boy is certainly a classic of that era, and last night’s show had all those elements coming together: pounding drums, Will rambunctiously bringing his sing to a shout, trumpets, violins, mandolins, organs, slide guitar, the works. You could tell the band (and the packed crowd) was having a great time playing these songs, and they sounded as fresh last night as they did ten years ago.

Will & Jonathan
Okkervil River

They left the stage after Black Sheep Boy closer “A Glow” and returned for an encore that had them playing the entire Black Sheep Boy Appendix EP, which came out a few months after the album and included material from its sessions. The whole show (which had no opener) lasted just about two hours.

Last night and Saturday’s show were both sold out, but tickets are still available for tonight’s show. Shearwater will be touring next year in support of a new album that’s coming out in January.

More pictures from Okkervil River at Bowery night 2, below…

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