by Matt Kelchner
While his tour may have just started only a week or so ago, Kurt Vile stopped into Union Transfer Friday night for an early hometown show while out on the road supporting his latest, b’lieve i’m goin down. Joining him was Luke Roberts as well as another local band that has been making a name for themselves, Waxahatchee. The long sold out show gave Vile a proper chance to prove once more that he is Philly’s constant hitmaker.
Silhouetted in a hazy, dark blue light, Nashville’s Luke Roberts warmed up the crowd Friday evening. Backed by just a keyboardist and drummer, his songs rolled off one after another, like a lazy summer afternoon. Roberts’ silky smooth voice only further reinforced the laid back feelings. As he began his final song, “Unspotted Clothes”, Roberts was met with the man of the hour himself. Vile mosied his way onto the stage to lend a helping hand in singing.
Waxahatchee is the current project of Katie Crutchfield and has been for the past five years. Since disbanding from her twin sister Alison and their former group, P.S. Eliot, Katie Crutchfield has released a pair of great albums on Don Giovanni Records before making the leap to Merge Records. She released her debut, Ivy Tripp, on her new label home earlier this April. Record after record, Crutchfield has steadily received praise with her honest, personal lyrics and clever songwriting.
Joined on stage with her touring band, which includes Alison on guitar and backing vocals, Crutchfield and Waxahatchee ripped through an energetic set. Friday night acted like a proper introduction for the group, as Crutchfield ran through songs from all three of her full length albums. She reached deep into her already lengthy catalog and pulled out “Grass Stain” off American Weekend. Others included were “Lively” from Cerulean Salt and “Poison” of this year’s Ivy Tripp before Crutchfield ended the night with another hit from Cerulean Salt, “Peace and Quiet”.
Back on September 30th, Kurt Vile played a last minute, super intimate “warm-up” show at Johnny Brenda’s before heading out on the road (Yes, we were there and yes, it was awesome!). His selection of songs Friday night did not differ too widely the preview show. Things kicked off with a mighty one-two punch of new songs, “Dust Bunnies” and “Pretty Pimpin”. The latter of which got a huge roar from the audience. Guitar pedal troubles plagued Vile early on in the night, but after a few good kicks everything appeared to be in working order.
One of the biggest differences between Vile’s show at Union Transfer and Johnny Brenda’s, besides having just a little more room on stage, was another new song, “I’m An Outlaw”. It’s the only song that features Vile laying his trusty six string down and opting for a banjo. The plucky, twanginess rang loud and clear throughout the halls.
For as the night being a celebration of new material, Vile dished out quite a bit of old tune as well. While “Wakin On A Pretty Daze” was left out, we were treated with “KV Crimes” and “Goldtone” from his previous album. Digging even further back, Vile came up with “Jesus Fever”, and “He’s Alright”. Between all the frantic solos and floating, airy guitar riffs, there stood long, luscious locks of hair flowing over Vile’s guitar.
To close things out, Vile unleashed a rendition of one of his first big hits, “Freak Train” that provided an extra noisy bunch in the gut. And to follow that up with his encore Vile went in the complete opposite direction with the subtleness, “Wild Imagination” and “All In A Daze Work”. Two new songs to round out the night devoted to another incredible album our very own Kurt Vile.