Live Review: Okkervil River, Kite Pilot

Category: Blog — @ 6:05 pm April 11, 2005

Point of fact: When it rains, it’s hot inside O’Leaver’s. Crazy hot. Humid. Smoky. Unpleasant. Thank god I only wore a t-shirt. I could have used a pair of shorts, though. The pouring rain and the fact that it was a school night didn’t deter fans from coming out — it was pleasantly crowded — but not crazy crowded — just crowded enough to raise the temperature inside the club to sweat-inducing proportions. Apparently it’s still too early in the year for O’Leaver’s to crank the A/C.

Enough about the weather. I got there just as Kite Pilot began cranking into a set that a featured a couple new ones mixed in with songs from last year’s EP, which were met with cheers of recognition and even a few people singing along. Instrumentally, they were on the mark, with drummer Corey Broman behind the set once again. The vocals, however, were more off-key than usual, maybe due to the band’s enthusiasm at playing to such a large crowd. Afterward, I watch Broman tear down his drum set — he was soaked to the skin.

Between sets, people crowded around the open doors, hoping to get a breeze but staying out of the soaker. I began remembering last year’s Saddle Creek floods and kept an eye on my car for fear that it might float down the street. Surprisingly, a handful of people left before the six-man version of Okkervil River took the stage at around midnight. Apparently they hadn’t read The New York Times article that came out Saturday heralding the band as a return to literate rock, written by Saddle Creek head cheerleader Kelefa Sanneh. They opened with a song I never heard before that fed into “For Real,” the pounding opener from their new CD. Frontman Will Sheff looked like a wet, inebriated cat, his wig-like hair eventually sticking to his forehead. Like any good crowd, people kept bringing him shots, which he gulped with gusto. By the time they got to their traditional closer, “Okkervil River Song,” Sheff was a slurring mess, while the rest of his crew looked primed ready to tear the place apart.

I figured most of the set would be dedicated to their new CD, but I only recognized a couple songs from the new one, maybe one from Down the River… while most of the set came from Don’t Fall in Love… (their defacto a signature album), including “Red,” “Kansas City,” “Westfall” and “Okkervil Song.” Sheff topped the evening off with a solo acoustic number. By the time I got out of there, the rain had stopped.

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