Live Review: Kurt Vile @ Ottobar — 7/23/19

KurtVile10 Kurt Vile and The Violators rock a sold-out Ottobar on July 23, 2019. (Photo by David LaMason)

There’s something about Kurt Vile that’s hard to pin down, but maybe that’s the point. Listen to any of his solo work that’s been released over the past 10 years and you might see what I mean. Although he has put out several albums over the past decade under both his own name and with various other artists, including Courtney Barnett, Dinosaur Jr’s J Mascis — and he is a frequent collaborator with the band The War on Drugs — Kurt creates the kind of rambling but layered music that’s hard to pull yourself away from (if you ever wanted to in the first place).

Having released his seventh studio album, Bottle It In, under his own name the tail end of last year, Kurt Vile has been touring heavily with his band, The Violators (Jesse Trbovich, bass/guitar/synth; Rob Laakso, guitar/bass; and former Harvey Milk drummer, Kyle Spence). They made a stop at the Ottobar in Baltimore on Tuesday.

Stream Bottle It In by Kurt Vile on Spotify:

On this night, the Ottobar was packed. I often get to shows pretty early, but at an hour before doors opened, there was a line stretching to the lot behind the venue.

I had seen Kurt Vile what feels like eons ago, but that night it felt like seeing him for the first time. With mic stands pushed to the edge of the stage and without any monitors, there was little between the band and the crowd — and it’s weird saying it, but even in a crowded, sweaty club the groove from the stage felt intimate.

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Starting off the set with my favorite song, “Loading Zones,” from the new album, the band sounded tight. And as they played through Kurt seemed entranced by the music emanating from himself and the others.

I had to remark to a friend about the two long pedalboards filled with all manner of effects pedals just for Kurt. But the sound created was there to serve the song, producing atmosphere and a cool vibe that permeated the evening. It was a ride that covered most of his albums from Smoke Ring for My Halo to Bottle It In.

Like all great sets, it seemed too short, but I’m glad I was there to take it in. Kurt Vile and The Violators continue their tour through the Fall. Definitely catch them here!

 The setlist included:

Loading Zones
Jesus Fever
Bassackwards
I’m An Outlaw
Check Baby
Girl Called Alex
Cold Was The Wind
Peeping Tomboy
Yeah Bones
Wakin’ On A Pretty Day
Puppet to the Man
Wild Imagination

ENCORE

Mutinies
Pretty Pimpin’
Baby’s Arms

Here are some photos of Kurt Vile and The Violators performing at the Ottobar on July 23, 2019. All pictures copyright and courtesy of David LaMason.

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