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Kurt Vile mesmerizes a sold-out crowd at Koko Camden: a night of silent awe and fretboard wizardry

Kurt Vile mesmerizes a sold-out crowd at Koko Camden: a night of silent awe and fretboard wizardry

Kurt Vile at Koko Camden

For a psychedelic-pop concert, Kurt Vile’s appearance at Camden’s Koko pulled in a particularly irate crowd. 

I can hardly attribute it to the songs about Waking on a Sunny Day, but even the skinniest of blokes having under-boob patches suggest it may have been the sweltering heat from the sellout crowd.

Although Kurt Vile & The Violators were touring their ninth album, (watch my moves) there was something intimately secret about him. 

I think it could be his perceived innocence. He has the energy of a teenager who’s just learned his favourite song on guitar, sheltering behind his long, beautiful hair (my girlfriend desperately wanted to know his routine) and eagerly looking up towards his parents for validation of his shredding solo.

It was this childlike energy that had the crowd in love with him. There was little other stage presence after the guitar playing, so they’re reliant on this talent and luckily it leaves you in stunned awe. It’s effortless, bewitching, and honed to be that way.

Many of you may know Kurt Vile as a previous guitarist for The War on Drugs, so this outward vulnerability has been forged. It’s as though he’s even mesmerised by his own skills.

The audience confirmed this. After being irate, they were transfixed in silence. Like, hear-someone’s-bar-order kinda silence. It was in line with standing outside, gazing up at the stars waiting for a meteor shower. There’d be nothing for a while, not a peep. Then you’d catch the odd arm fly in the air, or a brief yelp of ‘Go on, Kurt’.

And just like looking into the abyss, the stillness is appreciated just as much as the bursts. This was especially prevalent in his solo acoustic version of Runner Ups.

He was like an apparition on stage, telling tales and staring through the crowd. His style on singing style on stage is soft, almost mumbling. It had you locked in, leaning forward to hear him to then be surprised backwards with the occasional forceful intonation.

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With a new guitar for each song, he could control the sounds of a guitar that stole the show.

Although the show was (watch my moves) heavy, they featured some classics like Pretty Pimpin’ and Check Baby.

I never knew what to expect at Kurt Vile’s gig and I was still surprised. Baffled by how quiet an old theatre full of boozing people can fall while watching a gig. Astonished by his fretboard wizardry. Knocked for six by the slick, slick licks.

And the heat.

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