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Levitation: Kurt Vile Puts Austin in a Daze





Levitation: Kurt Vile Puts Austin in a Daze

  

Kurt Vile takes the stage at Stubbs casually and cool. His presence is always welcome in Austin, looking like someone you might bump into at the grocery store in Hyde Park with his long dark hair in his face and disheveled plaid shirt. His last show in town was December 2018 at Moody Theatre. The set list is similar to the last show here, playing mostly songs off his 2018 album Bottle It In, but it’s always refreshing to float along with his on and on lyricism and dreamy chord progressions.

The band opens the show with “Loading Zones.” Vile stakes his position as “a mayor of some godforsaken town.” The song’s story builds up to a repeated mantra: “I park for free,” because, yes, parking for free is the defining perk and achievement of political office. Imagine parking for free in Austin…I wonder if you can. 

There’s not much chat between songs as the band mellowly eases into each song. Of course, the audience lost it and sang along when Vile played “Pretty Pimpin’,” the hit that earned him significant cred back in 2015.

Wakin’ On a Pretty Day” - the 10 minute ballad of loafing and loving on a pretty day - would have been the highlight of the show if not for the encore featuring the guitar player of Dinosaur Jr. Clouds of smoke puff into the dark atmosphere above, and the audience bobs and sways as Vile’s mumbly articulation of the song draws you into a new state of day: “Wakin’ on a pretty day, don’t know why I ever go away. It’s hard to explain my love in this daze.” Try playing this song first thing in the morning and just see what happens - maybe you’ll have a pretty daze, whatever that looks like for you.

Vile and the band brought up J Mascis from Dinosaur Jr to encore with the song of “Hunchback,” from Vile’s 2009 album Childish Prodigy. It was a playful, dreamy song to close the weekend of shows at Stubbs, with both grown men singing about being hunchbacks “floppin an flippin around like fish on the street/floppin an flippin around like a fish along the sand.” 

The band exits the stage, the stage lights come on and the crew starts breaking down. Some of the crowd will go off to the last of the Levitation shows, but some will go home and get ready for a return to their subjective reality. Levitation is its own reality for scenes and subcultures of Austin, and the Fest was an excuse to show up, look hot, and hear great music.

- Mel Green

Published: November 20, 2019 |

This Emerging Artist is based in Austin,
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